We Ask ChatGPT About Robots and AI in Restaurants
by David Klemt
Earlier this week we had “a conversation” with ChatGPT, the now (in)famous chatbot from artificial intelligence research and development company OpenAI.
For my first time interacting with this type of tool, I keep things simple. I attempt to phrase my questions correctly, focusing on the topic of AI and robots in hospitality.
Initially, I receive a response that probably isn’t much of a surprise. But as you’ll see, the chatbot highlights an item or two that aren’t always top of mind with this topic.
Below you’ll find ChatGPT’s responses to one request and two questions.
Please write 400 to 500 words about robots and artificial intelligence working in restaurants, from the perspective of robots and AI.
“Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming increasingly prevalent in the restaurant industry. This is in part due to the many benefits that these technologies can offer, such as increased efficiency, improved safety, and reduced labor costs. However, it is also important to consider the perspective of the robots and AI systems themselves, and how they are integrated into the restaurant workforce.
One of the main ways that robots and AI are used in restaurants is through automation of tasks that would otherwise be performed by human workers. For example, robots can be programmed to cook food, mix drinks, and serve customers. This can help to improve the efficiency of the restaurant, as robots are able to work faster and more accurately than humans. Additionally, robots can be designed to perform tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans, such as handling hot oil or sharp knives. This can help to improve safety in the kitchen and other areas of the restaurant.
However, the use of robots and AI in restaurants also raises some important ethical and social issues. Some people may worry that robots will take jobs away from human workers, especially in an industry that already has high turnover rates. Additionally, there may be concerns about the social and emotional impact of having robots as a major presence in the workplace. For example, some people may find it uncomfortable or strange to interact with robots in a social setting, such as a restaurant.
The robots and AI perspective, they are programed to perform their task efficiently without any error. They don’t have any emotions or preferences hence they are not impacted by the same issues that human employees may face like fatigue, stress or burnout. They can work in any environment without needing breaks or vacation days, this can help reduce labor costs, as restaurants can operate with fewer employees. However, it also means that human workers may need to be trained in new skills that allow them to work alongside robots and AI systems.
In conclusion, the integration of robots and AI in the restaurant industry can provide many benefits, including increased efficiency and improved safety. However, it is important to consider the ethical and social implications of these technologies, and to ensure that they are implemented in a way that benefits both the restaurant and its employees. With proper planning and training, robots and AI can be an [sic] valuable asset to restaurant workforce.”
Can you explain to me, in 300 to 400 words, what the ethical implications are for restaurant, bar, and hotel operators using artificial intelligence and robots to complete tasks?
For the most part, ChatGPT repeats talking points from our first interaction. This is likely due to the phrasing of my question. Also, this chatbot is still in its “infancy.”
However, ChatGPT brings up a few new points, and expands on others.
“The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robots in restaurants, bars, and hotels raises a number of ethical implications that should be considered by operators. One of the main concerns is the potential for these technologies to displace human workers. In an industry that already has high turnover rates and relatively low wages, the use of robots and AI could make it even more difficult for human workers to find and keep jobs. This could lead to increased unemployment, reduced income and work-life imbalance among the impacted employees.
Another ethical concern is the impact that these technologies may have on the customer experience. For example, some customers may find it unsettling or uncomfortable to interact with robots in a social setting, such as a restaurant or hotel. Additionally, customers may feel that the use of robots and AI detracts from the human element of the service experience, and could harm the overall reputation of the business. There may also be concerns about how the data collected by these systems is used and protected, raising question about data privacy and security.
Additionally, some concerns about the way these AI and robots are designed and how they make their decisions, there could be potential for bias, especially when the systems are provided with data that is not representative of the whole population. This could lead to unfair treatment of customers, employees and other stakeholders.
There are also concerns about how the maintenance and repair of these technologies are managed and who is responsible for any accidents or malfunctions that may occur. This is particularly important for safety critical tasks, such as cooking or cleaning. Operators need to ensure that the AI and robots are designed and maintained to the highest standards to prevent any harm to employees or customers.”
Are there risks that human designers and engineers will introduce bias to customer-facing artificial intelligence and robots?
Since ChatGPT mentions bias in response to my first question, I run with that train of thought.
Below is what the chatbot has to say about that topic as it relates to AI and robots.
“Yes, there is a risk that human designers and engineers may introduce bias into customer-facing artificial intelligence (AI) and robots. This can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Data bias: If the AI system is trained on a dataset that is not representative of the population it will be serving, it may make decisions or predictions that are biased towards certain groups of people. For example, if an AI system used in a hotel is trained on data from primarily white and wealthy guests, it may have difficulty understanding and serving guests from other backgrounds.
- Algorithm bias: The way an AI system is designed and the algorithms it uses can also introduce bias. For example, if an algorithm is designed to prioritize certain inputs over others, it may make decisions that are biased towards certain groups of people.
- Human bias: Human bias can be introduced into AI systems through the decisions made by designers and engineers about what the system should do, how it should work and how it should interact with people. For example, if a designer and engineers decide that the robot should be more polite to older customers, it may be less polite to younger customers, or if the system is designed to recognize only certain languages, it may not be able to understand and serve customers who speak other languages.
It is important for human designers and engineers to be aware of the potential for bias in AI systems, and to take steps to minimize it. This can be done by using diverse and representative data when training the AI system, being mindful of the potential for bias in the algorithms used, and involving stakeholders from diverse backgrounds in the design and testing process. Additionally, monitoring and audit the system performance regularly, and providing ways for users to provide feedback on the performance and make adjustments accordingly.
It is important to remember that this is an ongoing process and it requires continuous monitoring and adjustment as the data and environment changes. There is also a need for more research in the field of explainable AI, which would allow human designers and engineers to understand why the AI system is making certain decisions, which can help to identify and mitigate any biases that may have been introduced.”
Obviously, I don’t think ChatGPT “speaks” for the machines. And I don’t think the chatbot was attempting to convince me of anything. There’s nothing overtly nefarious afoot here—this was mainly an entertaining exercise with a newsworthy tool.
That said, I’m not entirely certain how I feel about my interaction with ChatGPT. On one hand, the answers in favor of AI and robots are what one expects: efficiency, speed, consistency, cost reductions, improvements to safety.
But what about what ChatGPT says about biases, programming, representation, and human interactions with tech? To alter a phrase, “Who watches the programmers?”
Hospitality is about the human element. It’s about service and the guest experience. Personally, I don’t think the world will be in a better place if we reduce human interaction.
Dropping baskets into hot oil? Slicing and dicing? Sure, send in the robots…maybe. Reducing the human element in the name of efficiency and profits? I don’t see a benefit worth the risks.
Image: Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash