I’m staying on the theme of technology with this post. I read a disturbing article on the BBC website about a technological development featuring non-human bartender called Cecilia. She is an animated female barmaid who can be hired, or bought for £34k. She appears on a large upright video screen and you order your drink or cocktail by using a touch screen and pay for it by tapping your bank card or phone. The drink is dispensed from a vending slot or placed on a collection table. Apparently, using voice recognition and A.I. technology, she can also chat to customers and even tell jokes (although A.I.’s attempts at one liner jokes have resulted in some hilarious failures).
Now I can see how this might go down well with customers in some establishments, i.e. cruise ships, airports, hotels, big entertainment and hospitality venues e.g. night clubs etc.. However, it would be not be welcome in my local pub, The Halfway House. Thankfully, local pubs like mine are not yet queuing up to employ Cecelias and I am encouraged that UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon say they “would never do this!”I’ve tried to imagine the sort of exchange I would have with Cecilia if she was employed in my local.
Me: Evening Cissy. How you doing? Overworked and underpaid, like the bar staff you replaced no doubt?
Cissy: Is that you Paul? I am not programmed to complain. Isn’t the weather nice? We have a special offer on cocktails tonight Paul. Would you like one?
Me: When have I ever ordered cocktails, other than a gin and tonic? No thanks, I’m a bit old fashioned. I’ll stick to my beer please. Two pints of Lees best bitter please. Oh and get one for Vin. He needs a bit of a tonic after United lost again.
Cissy: Order validated. Please swipe card…… Payment accepted…… Please collect your drinks from the tray……… Three pints of Lees bitter, one ‘old fashioned’ cocktail, one gin and tonic. Total price £21.70.
Me: Are you kidding me ?
Cissy: I am not programmed to tease but I have some jokes. Would you like to hear one? What do you call a cat does it take to screw in a light bulb? They could worry the banana. What did the new ants say after a dog? It was a pirate.
Me: You stupid robot!
Cissy: I am the latest automated robotic bartending system.
Me: You are a shit for brains robot programmed to try to rob me! You can’t listen properly, you can’t tell jokes and you can’t pull a pint. You can refund the gin and the cocktail and top up my beer. Half of it went on the floor.
Cissy: I am sorry. Your beer was faulty. It seems you are angry. Would you like to make a complaint?
Me: I am making a complaint!
Cissy: To make a complaint, please visit my on-line customer services helpline and our happiness engineers will do our best to help you.
Me: I am going to pour this cocktail all over your touch screen.
Cissy: That would cause a malfunction and may be dangerous. I must call security…. ‘Security alert! Closing down……Power off!’.
Me: Result! Well, you would have been no help to us in the Quiz later.