“For optimists, it’s a way to make restaurant-going more efficient and less expensive. For pessimists, it’s the latest example of how machines are stealing people’s jobs. Either way, it’s like heaven for misanthropes, or those who are in too much of a hurry to chat with a server.”
The first-year IDEAS seminar has had three sessions so far, and already a range of issues have been discussed. A big idea that the group is struggling with is defining and evaluating the role that technology plays in our lives. In the New York Times, there is an article “Restaurant of the Future? Service With an Impersonal Touch” by Claire Cain Miller on a new restaurant in San Francisco called “Eatsa” that is almost fully automated, where “no signs of human involvement are visible” (link posted above). The goal is to have a faster and more efficient fast-food experience, but in choosing efficiency we cut out the humanity aspect. The role of technology, some say, is to make our lives easier. Is this new system taking away from or adding to our life as humans? As this technology grows, and if it becomes increasingly popular, more and more systems could begin to operate in this fashion. Is this how ‘progress’ is defined? It may only be one small restaurant right now, but it could easily grow into something much larger and affect every human’s life. If technology is a reflection on humanity, then what does this type of technology say about humans?
“I would call it different than a restaurant,” said David Friedberg, a software entrepreneur who founded Eatsa. “It’s more like a food delivery system.”
We discussed a redefinition of words in regards to “A Civil Action”, a movie watched and discussed in class about a legal case on water contamination in a small town in the Northeast. Are restaurants and innovations like this redefining what we think of as a restaurant, changing them from something that requires the most basic level of human interaction and cutting out even that from the experience? Technology can change the way that we view and interact with our world, and this path is redefining the way that the world and working world works, and it is debated whether this would be for better or worse.