Okay so we aren’t at the stage of robotics like in the movie Passengers, where actor Michael Sheen played a robot bartender capable of mixing drinks and being a sympathetic ear. We are, however, at the stage of robotics where there are bars that have robot bartenders for real. An experimental bar in Las Vegas (where else!) called TipsyRobot, is offering customers the opportunity to have bionic bartenders make their drink.
Robot bartender and humans
Human Sabrina Bergman works at the bar alongside the robots, and says that sometimes the robots knock a drink over, or they don’t put a full measure in the glass. So, it seems humans are still needed to fix the situation so customers don’t get upset and the whole place isn’t as sticky as hell.
But the robots can and do outwork humans. If customers are extra thirsty, the bionics can keep up. The bots can pour up to 120 drinks an hour, giving patrons an interactive experience.
Customers can design their own custom cocktails using a touchscreen interface, or they can use the app.
While the bar seems like a futuristic fantasy, the development hasn’t been without controversy. Customers have complained that when ordering, a 10% tip is automatically ordered for the bot bartender, and there is no way to avoid the fee. While North Americans are famous for generously tipping bartenders, it seems they aren’t happy with tipping the bots. It’s not like the bots have to pay for their robokids to go to college.
This week however, more trouble is brewing. The Culinary Union is currently preparing its members to strike in a dispute over AI in the workplace. The union represents 60,000 service and hospitality workers in Las Vegas and Reno.
The Culinary Union wants safeguards against AI replacing human jobs. In the past the union has fought for things like a six-month warning for workers before implementing new technology, and free training to help workers adapt to these changes.
While the exact impact of AI on service jobs remains uncertain, the union will resort to strikes if necessary, to address AI-related concerns during contract negotiations. This will be decided over the coming days.
While no one wants to see anyone out of work, is union action coming too late? Has the AI ship sailed?
These are big questions, and we could all discuss them over a Long Island Iced Tea. Whether that is made by humans or a bot is totally up to you.