McDonald’s Drive-Thru AI Is McCanceled

McDonald’s Drive-Thru AI Is McCanceled

AI is such big business right now it’s propelled Nvidia, that company that you once knew for making your GeForce graphics cards, to becoming the biggest business in the world. And yet the technology is so far next to useless in all but the most specific circumstances. For example, McDonald’s has just announced it’s abandoning its disastrous experiment with AI, after it turned out people didn’t want bacon on their ice cream.

The technology, introduced to around 100 McDonald’s stores in 2022 (although blessedly not in Australia), was supposed to be the future of its drive-thrus, where a magical robot would listen to orders and process them, rather than some l0W-tech meat-sack human being. It has, of course, proven far worse, with orders going completely haywire. Now, according to a report by Restaurant Business, the fast food giant is ending the experiment. For now.

The AI was developed for Ronald and his chums by IBM, but that partnership is now coming to an end, with the AI drive-thrus being removed over the next month. For an example of how successful they were, just look at TikTok:


Trying the McDonald’s AI drive thru….Again @McDonald’s Corporate #fail

♬ original sound – Dal JustDal

And my favorite, this guy trying to convince the McBot to not add bacon to his ice cream.

OK, it’s over-simplistic to refer to “AI” as one specific thing, rather than multifarious technologies that all rely on some form of machine learning. There are the god-awful generative AIs that we hear the most about, the industrial-scale plagiarism machines like ChatGPT and Midjourney, but there are also the models being used to massively accelerate drug discovery and cancer treatments.

But it’s fair to say that in the immediate, the vast majority of times we hear about a company “embracing AI,” it loosely translates to “seeing how many people’s jobs we can fuck over for profit.” And of course this is the most likely intention McDonald’s could have had here, given they already had a mostly functioning drive-thru system where humans took the orders.

Sadly, this isn’t the end of McD’s experiments with AI, as the company insists it’s going to carry on exploring the tech. Plus, you know, all the other chains are trying it too. Anything to stop having to pay those people their minimum wages.

Although I’ll tell you what, as a Brit, I’m with the AI on this one:

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