McDonald's wants to automate its drive-thrus with A.I.

The fast-food company recently agreed to acquire a tech company whose "speech-to-meaning" technology might soon be interpreting customers' orders.

RJ Sangosti / Contributor
  • McDonald's has agreed to acquire Apprente, whose speech recognition technology can supposedly understand complex orders.
  • McDonald's has acquired two other tech companies this year: one that updates drive-thru menus, and another that uses mobile apps to boost customer engagement.
  • The company hasn't said whether the new A.I. is likely to replace human workers.
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Machines probably aren’t interested in global takeover. Here’s why.

What most people worry about when it comes to artificial intelligence likely comes from science-fiction fantasy.

  • When someone says they fear artificial intelligence, what are they imagining? Robots taking over the world is the stuff of science-fiction fantasy.
  • Despite decades of beating humans at the game of Go, AI has never developed the desire to take over actual territory. The reality is that machines are not resourceful and have no interest in us.
  • Although AI plays an increasingly important role in our lives, we have a ways to go before deep learning and machines are solving all of our problems.
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How less professionalism will get you ahead in the workplace of the future

When it comes to job security in the future, instead of acting "professional" you may want to act more human.

  • Dell and the Institute for the Future recently conducted a study that found 85 percent of the jobs in 2030 don't exist today.
  • Having the conversation with kids on what they want to be when they grow up is becoming increasingly irrelevant because of this. They will need to be more adaptable for what future jobs may arise.
  • We commonly describe a "professional" as someone who can do the same thing multiple times with the same result. However, where A.I. is most effective is in producing the same output via consistent, repeatable activity. Because of this, it's being as "unprofessional" as possible that may secure a job — that is, acting in a way that is not predictable. Acting on your humanity may enable you to thrive.

The biggest problem in AI? Machines have no common sense.

Correlation doesn't equal causation — we all know this. Well, except robots.

  • There are a lot of people in the tech world who think that if we collect as much data possible, and run a lot of statistics, that we will be able to develop robots where artificial "intelligence" organically emerges.
  • However, many A.I.'s that currently exist aren't close to being "intelligent," it's difficult to even program common sense into them. The reason for this is because correlation doesn't always equal causation — robots that operate on correlation alone may have skewed algorithms in which to operate in the real world.
  • When it comes to performing simple tasks, such as opening a door, we currently don't know how to encode that information — the varied process that is sometimes required in differing situations, i.e. jiggling the key, turning the key just right — into a language that a computer can understand.

Gary Marcus is the author of Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust.

Aristo A.I. scores ‘A’ on 8th-grade science test

An A.I. named Aristo was able to use its language and logic skills to pass a standardized exam with flying colors.

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  • An A.I. called Aristo, developed by the Allen Institute, was able to correctly answer 90 percent of questions on a science exam designed for eighth graders.
  • The success represents recent progress in the A.I. industry to develop systems that understand language.
  • It doesn't mean computers are nearly as smart as eighth-graders, but it does suggest we might soon see some striking improvements in A.I.-based technology.
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