AI Taking Your Job? Relax. It Can't Even Pour You a Drink.
Roopinder Tara posted on September 08, 2020 |
Quick with a joke or a light of your smoke. That's not AI. Not yet.
The perfect bartender, as per Hollywood. Picture by Jamie Trueblood, Columbia Pictures)
The perfect bartender, as per Hollywood, is an Android. Picture from Passengers movie by Columbia Pictures

(Republished from 2017 engineering.com blog post)

Quick with a joke or a light of your smoke. That's not AI. Not yet.

Michael Sheen plays the perfect bartender in Passengers, a sci-fi flick. He is as chatty as he needs to be as he makes the perfect cocktail for his guests, two of them that wake up prematurely on an interstellar voyage. As the camera looks behind the bar, the bartender is shown to be standing on robotic legs. 

But bartending, as dissected by those more familiar with AI than Hollywood, is a rather complex set of decisions and actions. For a technology that has only recently figured out what a human baby knows at age one (like who is their mom/maker? what is a cat? don't fall down steps and other seemingly simple things we humans take for granted) AI will disappoint by being unable to mix anything more than the simplest of cocktails. Only in the movies will a future James Bond ask a robobartender to make his vodka martini, shaken not stirred and expect it to understand the distinction.

From Popular Science, Sep/Oct 2017
Bartending dissected by Popular Science, Sep/Oct 2017

Autonomous vehicles able to safely negotiate a neighborhood are still a billion miles away from a 16 year old with a month of Drivers Ed, for example. However, we continue to see the future, perpetually at the horizon, with self-driving cars in our streaming video entertainment.

Paul Powers, CEO and cofounder of Physna, expresses this frustration of the future to deliver in his 2019 Ted Talk, called "Where's My Flying Car?"

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