Case study on robots in kitchen
Why robots should not take over domestic cooking
Robots have been dominant in every field, and with every passing day, the world is witnessing a discovery in the Artificial intelligence arena. For example, robotics has achieved commendable heights in the field of Automobiles covering 30% of the total industrial ecosystem. Every commercial sector is experiencing groundbreaking developments, and humans are constantly inventing new methods to harness the benefits of emerging technology.
The food industry is also emerging as a massive consumer of this artificially intelligent technology. Ranging from food production to customer service, robotics has touched every food industry sector.
Every day, we see news of food delivery undertaken by Drones and restaurants employing robots for food preparation and even serving. The sight of a robot serving the food is thrilling for customers, which is why customers are attracted to these restaurants. Additionally, robots have been seen delivering couriers and food packages. For instance, Refraction AI is one of such startups which links their robotic technology with supermarkets and food chains to deliver food in "robot on wheels".
The application of robotics in the commercial food industry is acceptable. However, this article will hover over why replacing human chefs with robots in a domestic environment is not a good idea.
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Home is our comfort zone, where we bond and unite with our families—coming home from work, we wish to enjoy food with our loved ones. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an average human spends 7.5 hours at work every day and 90,000 hours in a lifetime. With no time to connect with the family, 87% of the surveyed people turn to cook to spend time together. As per the research article "Mother's cooking: Perspective of Givers and takers", published in 2021, Thai families were seen bonding more prominently over meals cooked by their mothers at home.
According to a study, 71% of Americans prefer to cook at home rather than go to a restaurant. As evident from the study results, people prefer home-cooked meals for their affordability, serving better health in the long run. However, apart from this, one of the other reasons, and a more prominent one, is the bond we share over food.
Families that eat together stay together:
Cooking and eating together are dominant bonding activities for humans. The home-cooked meal provides bonding time and boosts the health and nutrition value of the meal. For example, researchers at the university's Family Resiliency Center in 2009 post their research concluded that children who ate more than three meals a week with their families were 12% less likely to be overweight and fall sick. At the same time, the likelihood of poor nutrition was reduced by 25% when families ate five or more meals together in a week.
For centuries, human civilization has been bonded over food despite the nationality, occupation or religion; as per the book "Sapiens", written by - ---, the earliest human civilizations were formed over a common human need: Food security, which ultimately led to the formation of human societies. This is not only prominent in humans but also other species. For example, every animal prefers to stay in herds since it becomes more convenient to look for food.
Present-day humans are no different. From the birth of an infant, he gravitates towards his mother for survival. This is a basic human tendency to depend on their food provider. The entire model of human society and its development is based on the need to fulfil food needs.
The emergence of Robots in the food industry:
In a commercial setting, the emergence of robots is understandable. Robots can facilitate staff, serve customers, and efficiently maintain and practice hygienic activities with high precision and minimal human dependency. Stated advantages prove them beneficial in the Commercial food industry, which is solely based on the idea of le and making a profit. Therefore, adopting methods which help in optimally achieve profits is no harm.
Robots in domestic households:
However, the scenario is different in the domestic ecosystem. The agenda of cooking at home is not to earn profit and expand the business; the idea is to feed and nurture the family. Therefore, it is natural human tendency to perceive artificially produced (something produced by machine) as less attractive. For example, according to the research published by Bucak T and Yigit S in 2021, human chefs look down upon robot chefs because they believe it would make dishes boring and turn them into "fabricated products".
Robots are believed to be less efficient cooks than human chefs (Ivanov S, Webster C, 2019). Studies have also revealed that people prefer handmade food over machine-made food (Fuchs C, Schreier M, van Osselaer SMJ, 2015).
Realization during the pandemic:
Amid the pandemic, every individual has experienced the need for social interactions and family bonding. The pandemic has made it very evident that humans need humans. Unfortunately, not every aspect of life can be digitized. During COVID-19, there were plenty of alone, stranded people whose only source of entertainment and interaction was digital technology. However, after a point, everyone realized the importance of family and human connection. People stranded in four walls in lockdown did not turn to technology; instead longed to meet their families in person. This is the prime example of how technology facilitates human connections and does not replace humans; we should not try to.
The emergence of artificial intelligence in human societies is not going to stop. However, we as humans need to draw a line as to how much we want technology to penetrate our lives. From smartphones to digital cars, our lives have been transformed by growing technology; however, to maintain sanity, even humans need a break from technology. People need to understand that technology is just a facility to enhance human performance rather than the replacement of humans in our lives. If technology overpowers every domain of our lives, humans will turn to mere slaves of technology rather than bettors!
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