Food and science have always been intertwined. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence, new technologies, and data science affecting food, is it really good to have technology affect how we eat?
Can Robots Become Food Servers?
Robots could possibly become the new food servers of the future. A San Francisco startup, Creator, is the first robot-made burger restaurant in America. Another eatery, Zume Pizza, wants to serve people exclusively with robot-made pizza later in 2018.
“The point is how can we integrate automation into our manufacturing process in a way that gives better jobs to the people that are working here,” said Zume co-founder and president Julia Collins to the Business Times.. “Better because they’re safer, better because they’re more human-centric and more interesting and in a way that gives better food to our consumers.”
The Problem with Flippy, the Burger-Flipping Robot
While some restaurants want to do away with human workers, other establishments are finding that people are still needed for fast-food restaurants.
Caliburger made headlines by introducing Flippy, a robot that can flip burgers on its own. While Flippy attracted a lot of attention, ironically humans were needed to make him work. Flippy can flip 2,000 burgers a minute, but there was a shortage of human workers to prepare the patties and the toppings on the grills. Because of the lack of humans, Flippy had to go on hiatus.
Anthony Lomelino, the chief technology officer of Caliburger, said that Flippy can be a fast worker, but still needs to have his bugs fixed.
"Mostly it’s the timing,"said Lomelino."When you’re in the back, working with people, you talk to each other. With Flippy, you kind of need to work around his schedule. Choreographing the movements of what you do, when and how you do it."
How AI Can Personalize Food
Artificial intelligence can lead to hyper-personalized food specifically tailored to customers’ tastes. Artificial Flavor Systems has a tool, Gastrograph, that wants to use data science to tailor food to customers’ taste buds.
While artificial intelligence seems like an impersonal way to determine how we eat, president Jason Cohen argues that current methods of testing food do not take into account diverse tastes.
"This is obviously not a scientific way to develop products,” said Cohen while looking at a beer ad during an interview with The Guardian. What’s more, “every single one of these individuals is white. They are going to develop products for national or international launch, and they literally cannot perceive what other demographics around the world perceive when they are tasting these products,”said Cohen.
Cohen promises to have more diverse taste testers combined with data to make better food. Hopefully, with a combination of cutting-edge science and old-fashioned people power, food tech can create a tastier future.
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