McDonald’s Gives Up On ‘AI’ After Comedy Of Errors, Including Putting Bacon On Ice Cream

from the I’m-sorry-I-can’t-do-that,-Dave dept

If there’s been one recurring theme during the “AI” (read, language learning models) revolution, it’s that the tech sector and greedy financiers are prematurely rushing undercooked technology to market. We’ve seen it broadly across industries, whether it’s fabulism-prone fake journalists, automated health insurance systems with 90% error rates, or Google telling people to eat rocks and glue.

McDonald’s is the latest company to learn this lesson the hard way as well, after its partnership with IBM resulted in “AI” powered drive-through systems that were giving patrons preposterous numbers of chicken nuggets and unwanted butter patties, or putting bacon on ice cream:

“In one video, which has 30,000 views on TikTok, a young woman becomes increasingly exasperated as she attempts to convince the AI that she wants a caramel ice cream, only for it to add multiple stacks of butter to her order.

In another, which has 360,000 views, a person claims that her order got confused with one being made by someone else, resulting in nine orders of tea being added to her bill.

Another popular video includes two people laughing while hundreds of dollars worth of chicken nuggets are added to their order, while the New York Post reported another person had bacon added to their ice cream in error.”

The trial, which started in 2019, was ended last week. The 100 restaurants it has been testing the technology will have it removed by the end of July. McDonald’s insists that automation is still “part of its restaurants’ future,” but it will spend the rest of 2024 in contemplative mode. It’s not entirely clear if the company would have ended the trial if its problems hadn’t gone viral on TikTok.

LLMs certainly hold potential, but as we’ve seen time and time again in tech over the last fifteen years, the hype and greed of unethical pitchmen has gotten way out ahead of the actual locomotive. A lot of people in “tech” are interested in money, not tech. And they’re increasingly making decisions based on how to drum up investment bucks, get press attention and bump stock, not on actually improving anything.

The result has been a ridiculous parade of rushed “AI” implementations that are focused more on cutting corners, undermining labor, or drumming up sexy headlines than improving lives. The resulting hype cycle isn’t just building unrealistic expectations and tarnishing brands, it’s often distracting many tech companies from foundational reality and more practical, meaningful ideas.

Filed Under: ai, burgers, drive through, fast food, hype, llm

Companies: mcdonalds

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