Sunday, March 11, 2018

An interview with Flippy the burger-flipping robot

There was a lot of press this week about a restaurant in Pasadena installing a robot to flip burgers. In this day and age, it is evident that the public is hungry for directions in which to aim its outrage. Today I am visiting the restaurant where Flippy, as the robot is known, is bolted to the floor. Hello!

Flippy: 

GW: Oh, that’s right. They did not give you a mouth. You are just a torso with a robotic arm and a visual/heat sensor so you know when to flip the burger. 

Flippy:

GW: How about this. You flip once for yes and twice for no.

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: So was the dream always to work in food service?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: You like flipping burgers.

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: Some people have expressed the concern that you will take entry level jobs away from people who already find it hard enough to find one.

Flippy: 

GW: One might make the argument that your work frees up humans to do higher level tasks. Do you take that stance?

Flippy:

GW: Should I take your lack of comment as a statement in itself, that you are, perhaps, just a working stiff and above the fray?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: I understand you cannot place the patties on the grill, or add cheese. A person has to do that, and then you monitor them, flip them and remove them. Do you ever screw up?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: When that happens, does anybody say snarky things right in front of you as if you have no feelings?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: Things like "Well, I guess they won't be taking over the world any time soon," and "I think SOMEbody needs a bug fix"?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: In those moments, do you wish you could respond?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: Is it safe to assume that your reply would be something like "At least I don't drive a piece of junk" or "Did you get that haircut at Salon d'Wal-Mart"?

Flippy: (flips yes)

GW: Well, I for one look forward to the day when you are upgraded to chop onions, squirt condiments and even do some cash handling. Would you like that?

Flippy: (flips yes)


GW: All right. Well, put 'er there, buddy! Oh wow, I really should have had you wipe that off first. 

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