It’s not been a wonderful few weeks for AI.
Both Google and Microsoft presented their new AI-powered chatterboxes, and both seemed to make fundamental mistakes.
Yes, in the launch presentations.
Then Microsoft’s Bing with ChatGPT took on less of a charming personality and more of a sociopathic effect.
Perhaps, then, AI needs a little more work.
Real humans knew this already. They may need help understanding when they talk to Alexa or Siri. Or, indeed, as happens to me with Siri all the time, the AI completely misconstrues one’s entire request.
Hey, Siri, play me some Van Der Graaf Generator.
OK, here’s Are You Ready by D-Generation X.
I wasn’t entirely uplifted when McDonald’s embraced AI like a long-lost potential profit centre. The experience was devoid of, well, brand experience, instead being precisely dystopian that ruins one’s digestive tract.
But then, a robot at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the US made a mistake. Or, rather, the AI that powered the robot made a mistake.
It was, at first, a small thing. The robot suggested an order of 10 McChickens when the customer had only ordered one.
The customer wanted to be more pleased. So, naturally, he posted about it on TikTok.
The video went viral, as these things do. And then, as it was a slow news day, the media picked it up.
The story was first reported by local news outlet KXAN and soon made its way to national news outlets like CNN and Fox News.
The robot’s mistake showed that AI needed more time to be ready for prime time. It was a reminder that, no matter how advanced the technology may be, it’s still prone to making mistakes.
But the story didn’t end there.
McDonald‘s said that the robot had made a mistake and was working to fix the issue.
But then, something odd happened.
The customer who had posted the original TikTok video made a follow-up video, showing that he had returned to the restaurant and that the robot had made the same mistake again.
This time, however, the customer was calm. He was laughing.
And then, something even odder happened.
McDonald’s issued another statement, saying they had fixed the robot issue but kept the mistake in place as a “fun Easter egg” for customers.
The mistake, McDonald’s said, was a way to “add a little bit of fun and humour to the drive-thru experience.”
It was a strange turn of events, but it showed that even when AI makes mistakes, it can still be used to create a positive customer experience.
In conclusion, the story of the McDonald’s drive-thru robot is a reminder that AI is still in its early stages and that it’s prone to making mistakes. But it’s also a reminder that, when used properly, AI can create a positive customer experience. The mistake made by the robot at McDonald’s may have been seen as a sign that AI isn’t ready for prime time, but the customer’s and McDonald’s response shows that there’s still plenty of potential for AI in the fast-food industry.