ChatGPT and Robotics: The Future Is Closer Than You Think

By: Thomas Greenman, President of Skurla’s POS Solutions  

If the terms artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics seem like they are too far off in the future for our industry, let me assure you: they are not. Predicting the future of our industry is a lot like a weather forecast: There’s precipitation out there, but it’s a question of how much and where it’s going to fall. AI and robotics are out there. Where and when will we see them fall into our industry? 

Let’s look at AI first, namely in the form of ChatGPT. It’s an AI chatbot that’s buzzing around social media but also making waves in our everyday lives. In a nutshell, ChatGPT is conversational artificial intelligence that can be tasked with answering just about any question you can throw at it, all the way to creating software, writing content such as blogs and essays, doing math, and a lot more. In the short time it’s been in the public eye, it’s been banned from schools in New York City and Seattle since they see it as a threat to “original thought and work from students.” However, it seems that everyone that has used the product has found a new and inventive way of using AI, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, Google, not wanting to be left behind, has recently unveiled its AI competitor named Bard. 

As a small VAR, Skurla’s is looking at doing more with less by using ChatGPT and other AI-based tech to speed up and enhance a small aspect of how we do business in social media and our internal processes. Even with small steps, the more we work with this technology, the better off we’ll be as industry experts to advise and train our customers on how to use AI for their businesses. We are already starting to see AI used in restaurant kitchens to improve order speed, accuracy, health standard, and more. Check out how vendor Plainsight is using AI in restaurants: Tech like this shows that we’re just starting to scratch the surface of what AI is capable of. 

Regarding robotics, the restaurant industry is still suffering from a lack of workers. At Inspire 2023, we saw estimates that the worker shortage is predicted to get worse and not see signs of recovery until 2030. In the CNBC video linked below, they explore the topic of robots replacing fast food workers. For most of you reading, this is old news. 

But what is new is the cost. Consider that an average fast-food worker may make around $20K per year, and the price of a robot is around that same price! What makes it even more compelling is that it doesn’t call in sick, doesn’t take time off, and delivers consistent results every day. The real innovation is the cost because its affordability takes this technology beyond the big corporate fast-food chains and into the kitchens of the smaller restauranteur. 

Change is happening so quickly nowadays, and as an association, we owe it to ourselves and our customers to be proactive and embrace these technologies, forge partnerships with newer vendors, and see how we can bring these solutions out of the future and into the present. If we don’t, technology may replace us as well.