DC Trawler

San Francisco Resists Delivery Robots

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What happens when our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters “Fight for 15” and make it illegal to pay people no more than their labor is worth? I’ll tell you what happens: The machines try to take over! But one city isn’t letting Skynet get away with it.

Mark Harris, The Grauniad:

A hi-tech start-up aiming to bust congestion and reduce pollution with wheeled delivery robots is facing a backlash from the very city it is aiming to help.

Order a delivery meal from a local restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission and Potrero Hills neighbourhoods using Yelp Eat24 and it might arrive at your door in a suitcase-sized wheeled robot…

San Francisco supervisor Norman Yee recently proposed legislation that would prohibit autonomous delivery robots – which includes those with a remote human operator – on public streets in the city. He told technology news site Recode, “our streets and our sidewalks are made for people, not robots.” He also worries that many delivery jobs would disappear.

Hey, if you can’t stifle innovation in San Francisco, where can you stifle innovation?

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords. Automation is a wonderful thing. We’re already seeing robots handling the ordering and preparation of food, and now they’re taking over delivery. If meddling bureaucrats don’t interfere, soon we could all live in a glimmering utopia where you can order a delicious, freshly cooked meal right to your door without ever having to deal with another human being.

A robot will never roll its eyes at you while you’re ordering. A robot will never put a booger in your cheeseburger. A robot never complains about the tip. A robot never needs a smoke break or a sick day.

Another added benefit is that people will have more free time to pursue their artistic and philosophical pursuits, like thinking up hashtags and complaining about microaggressions and cultural appropriation.

Speaking of which… if one of these robots delivers you a pizza, and you’re not Italian, are you allowed to eat it? I know burritos are now a hate crime, but I’m not sure about other foods.

Anyhow, here’s a reenactment of one of these delivery robots at work:

Well, at first these little fellows will get the wrong house from time to time. But once we work out the kinks and fix the glitches, it’ll be great!

(Hat tip: Michael Saltsman)