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CCFB News» July 2022

Downwind"A robot with a Spatula"

07/01/2022 @ 8:30 am | By Bob Rohrer, Manager

 

Every day, our society is one step closer to becoming a real-life version of the “Jetsons”. For those of you who are “junior” in age, the Jetsons were a 60s’ cartoon starring a futuristic family and society featuring pushbutton modern conveniences, magical wireless connections, voice command AI robotics, and driver-free (flying) cars.

 

In today’s version of the Jetsons…

  • Technology provides pushbutton heated vests, remote start cars, remote cameras in our doorbells, and remote-controlled thermostats. Even my water softener has remote access.
  • We verbally command things to happen in our homes…

“Alexa, make me laugh!” or

“Siri, why did the chicken cross the road?” or

“Hey Google, where’s the beef?”

 

We receive answers and things happen.

  • We have robotic vacuums for houses, pools, lawnmowers, and milk cow barns. I call them Roomba®, Poomba, Lawnba, and Moomba.
  • There are big plans for self-driving, automated versions of cars and there are even a few versions of hovercars.

 

Therefore, I am not sure why was I surprised to read the FarmWeek headline from Kay Shipman entitled:

 

“Robotic chefs bring artificial intelligence to the table”

 

The article highlights a robotic chef called Chef Nala, powered by artificial intelligence that can cook millions of recipes without human intervention invented by a robotics company in Arlington Heights. (We reprinted the article on this page!)

 

Yes, robots are getting into the restaurant business.

 

I can see the possibility of a robot following a recipe inputted into its database with the outcome being of consistent quality. Seems like a quality assurance dream (Will a robot be able to determine if milk is sour through the smell test, though?).

 

As you may know, I am a big fan of small-town diners that feature comfort food such as breaded pork tenderloin the size of my head and homemade biscuits and gravy. The bacon is crispy. Grease is a desired ingredient. Everyone makes fun of kale, lentils, and quinoa.

 

Maybe there will be a “fry cook” robot model armed with a spatula for those greasy spoon diners? For me, what makes a small-town diner appealing are the nuances that cannot be included in a recipe. How will a robot know how much a dash of salt, a pinch of pepper, a splash of grease, and a dab of butter is in a homemade recipe that has never been written down? Every meal is totally unique. On the positive side, the odds of having a random hair in your food diminishes unless a robot wig upgrade is offered.

 

As the robotic chefs grow popular in restaurants, reality robot tv will be right around the corner. Robot versions of… Hell’s Kitchen; Iron Chef; Emeril Live; The Great British Baking Show; Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives; Cupcake Wars; Top Chef. These reality TV shows will feature robots that have broken out of their software programming barriers with personality and flair.

 

Most surprising to me, a survey of adults 18 and over conducted in early May resulted in 60% of respondents indicating food cooked by a robot would be the same or better than that prepared by a person (are coffee vending machines better than restaurant coffee…hmm). My faith was restored when I saw that the most reluctant age demographic in the survey were Baby Boomers at only 39% interest.

 

All joking aside, congratulations to Nala Robotics of Arlington Heights as the company brings food preparation to a new level of technology! I cannot wait to taste your robot’s biscuits and gravy!

***

It is with great sadness and sorrow that I write a paragraph on the recent passing of Cook County Farm Bureau board member, Tim Stuenkel. We miss Tim’s energy, knowledge, wit, and passion for agriculture and leadership. Tim engaged in so many aspects of the organization that showcased his leadership talent on the board, for agricultural literacy, sharing farm technology and practices, and communicating with the general public. The Farm Bureau family including board, staff, teams, and Tim’s many friends express sincere condolences to the entire Stuenkel family that has been involved in farming and Farm Bureau for many decades.

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