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McDonald’s Is Replacing Drive-Thru Workers With AI

McDonald's to replace drive-thru workers with Sir-like AI.

AI is taking over human roles at a substantial pace. While it is a relief for large-scale businesses to decrease the monthly expenses, it has also put thousands of jobs at risk.

The latest case of AI assuming human roles comes from our favorite burger place, McDonald’s. The human force working in the fast-food drive-thru section is at risk of losing their jobs, as a Siri-like AI system is already in a test phase and has proven to be around 85 percent effective in taking orders.

An AI system of any sort needs to be trained first for it to work properly. However, in McDonald’s case, it seems like the employees have caught on to this fact, and out of fear of losing their jobs, they start “helping out” every time the system hits an obstacle.

This interference by the employees has caused the system to learn and train itself at a slower pace as stated by CEO Chris Kempczinski, “We weren’t getting enough of the orders to be actually able to be processed through the voice recognition technology because as soon as there was a question or a hiccup, the crew tended to want to jump in. And it took a little bit of time actually to learn to trust the technology.”

However, despite the hindrances, the Siri-like voice recognition system designed to replace the drive-thru employees has shown impressive results. Currently, it is being tested at ten drive-thru locations in Chicago. The new system has shown effective results by managing more than 80 percent of the orders with an 85 percent accuracy. McDonald CEO Chris Kempczinski said that a national rollout replacing the human workforce could take place in a span of five years.

While it is no doubt that systems like AI and machine learning have a place in the modern world, the threat to employment is also a real concern that should not be overlooked. McDonald’s plans for integrating AI have proven to be a concern for those already working the drive-thrus.

Drive-thru workers seem to be in an awkward position now because they were asking for higher wages not long ago. However, now that McDonald’s is flirting with the idea of AI, they may lose their jobs altogether.

My suggestion to the employees at risk of losing their jobs to AI is to adapt to the changing job market trends and select your niche accordingly. You could start looking for opportunities in the sectors that are not at threat from smart machine learning in the coming years. Businesses always seek to maximize their profits, and they will do at the cost of their employees.