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Robot Waiters Are Getting Fired for Being Incompetent and Clumsy

Robot takeover may feel imminent, but hold your horses, doomsday prophets! Maybe you haven’t seen these bozo robot waiters in China that were so bad at their jobs that the restaurants they worked in had to close.
April 6, 2016, 9:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Philip McMaster

Despite warnings from leading technologists and scientists—such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates—that artificial intelligence and robots could pose a greater risk to humanity than nuclear weapons, humans keep on keepin' on with developing AI and androids. Take a look at this terrifying, upright, two-legged harbinger of doom known as Atlas, which opens doors, walks through the forest, gets knocked over by a puny human, and gets right back up on its own.


Despite warnings from economists that robots overtaking human jobs could severely impact the global economy, humans keep on handing over human jobs to computerized counterparts, from the production line to the driver's seat, with big car and tech companies working tirelessly to perfect self-driving cars.

"The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog," the scholar and author Warren Bennis once said. "The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment."

But hold your horses, doomsday prophets! Maybe you haven't seen these bozo robot waiters in China that were so bad at their jobs that the restaurants they worked for had to close.

READ MORE: Robots Are Quietly Infiltrating the Food Service Industry

Shanghaiist reports that two restaurants in Guangzhou were forced to close after their inept robot waiters couldn't perform the tasks required to serve guests.

"The robots weren't able to carry soup or other food steady and they would frequently break down," one employee said. "The boss has decided never to use them again."

The robots were good at attracting customers, but that was about it. Another eatery has had to lay off most of their robot waiters, leaving behind just one of their ilk to keep the "robot restaurant" theme alive. The remaining human employees had a lot of shit to talk about their former co-workers.

"Their skills are somewhat limited," one employee said. "They can't take orders or pour hot water for customers."

The robots cost 50,000 yuan each—about $7,700—up front, and around $100 in electricity and upkeep per month. Over time, that's less than paying a living, breathing human employee, but if your robot might pour hot tea all over a customer, you're looking at some additional legal expenses not in the operating budget.

READ MORE: Make This Delicious Bourbon Punch that Was Invented by a Robot

There are plenty of other restaurants throughout China that use robot waiters, and it looks like they're getting along fine. And let's not forget the robot bartender in Germany named Carl who apparently does pretty well serving up drinks and interacting with customers. Question: do you tip a robot bartender or waiter?

Yes, Stephen Hawking has said that "artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." For now, though, they might come bearing gifts of dumplings and beer. Hopefully, they don't dump them in your lap.