The impending takeover of robots was explained in great detail to the world in the 1984 documentary series titled Terminator 1, 2 and 3 — starring an ex-governor of California and a young kid who later turned out to just be a trainwreck and not a gifted savior of humanity. But we didn't listen.
Because according to Yum Brands (Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell) CEO Greg Creed, machines will replace people not decades in the future, but in the next couple of years. Some places are already testing out the tech.
In an interview with CNBC, Creed darts around the idea that machines will take the jobs of Americans anytime in the near future. "I'm not sure we're gonna have robots replacing humans soon … " he says unconvincingly before quickly interrupting himself. "Though to be fair, I was in Shanghai just recently at a new Pizza Hut concept store and I was greeted by a robot!"
With a twinkle in his eye, he continued: "A robot actually greeted me at the door, it took me to my table!"
When further prodded about the possibility of robots taking actual human jobs referencing a quote from the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin ("In terms of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs, I think we’re like so far away from that, not even on my radar screen. I think it’s 50 or 100 more years."), Creed gleefully disagrees and says it's closer than we think.
"Yeah, I would disagree with that," he says. "I believe, having listened to people in the Artificial Intelligence area … I think that is way too long. I don't think it's gonna happen next year or the year after, but I do believe that by the mid-'20s to the late '20s you'll start to see a dramatic change in how machines run the world."
McDonald's and Wendy's in particular are already using kiosks to take orders instead of the traditional grumpy slackers who never get your order right anyway. The companies say the kiosks are to "supplement" the workers, but we all know what that means and probably aren't buying the bullshit they're offering.
Then again, that's life. Try finding a cobbler, seamstress or any one of the nonexistent jobs that used to be fire back in the day like a switchboard operator or coal stoker — things change.
To expect that being a cashier at a burger joint is a secure position in the quickly changing world of technology is a pipe dream. As soon as it's reliable, companies no longer have to offer sick days, insurance, leave or worry about morale because of tech. Training will be a thing of the past and wages completely nixed. That sure sucks for the 4 million+ employees in the fast-food industry and many millions more in areas where robots can take their place, but that's why adaptability as a nation is a powerful tool we'll need to focus on in the very near future.
Then again, Terminator only showed us one side of a possible outcome where heroes managed to save the day. If we don't find who ours are soon, it might just be the end of the human race as we know it.
M'eh, It was a good run.