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McDonald’s Ends AI Pilot After Order Mix-Ups Go Viral

McDonald’s has decided to end its partnership with IBM for an AI-powered voice-ordering system. This decision seems to have been influenced by a viral TikTok post showing the AI drive-through service glitching and making incorrect orders and combinations. Following this, approximately 100 McDonald’s branches stopped using the AI voice ordering system.

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This situation highlights the importance of human involvement in the workforce. Machines are prone to breakdowns, leading to temporary work stoppages. The general notion is that machines should serve as assistants, not replace frontline workers. Malfunctions like these can cost companies millions, forcing them to regroup and find solutions to address the issues.

Many businesses have adopted AI to streamline workflow and reduce costs, leading to job losses for many workers. This has sparked debates about whether AI truly benefits us. While it may be convenient to have tasks performed for us, it is contingent on whether we continue to receive payment. Furthermore, the presence of artificial intelligence diminishes the human touch in terms of creativity. Fortunately, the field of creative work remains largely untouched by AI, ensuring that we at least retain a portion of opportunities in the workforce.

Despite the challenges, the introduction of AI has also created new opportunities, such as AI engineering, thereby opening the door to a new and highly marketable career.

McDonald’s mentioned that it will still work with IBM on other products. The decision to end the AI-powered system trial comes after videos on TikTok demonstrated the system picking up orders from the wrong cars, generating multiple orders, and creating strange food combinations such as ice cream with ketchup and butter.

Despite ending the trial, McDonald’s stated that it will continue to explore AI technology for its restaurants and aims to make an informed decision on a future voice-ordering solution by the end of the year. This move comes at a time when many restaurant chains are looking to incorporate AI for faster workflows and reduced labour costs.

Major US fast food giants including Chipotle, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut have rolled out AI-assisted systems in recent years. In April, Joe Park, the technology chief at Yum Brands, the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, told the Wall Street Journal that the group believes an “AI-first mentality works every step of the way.”

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