AI company reveals its drive-thru chatbot relies on human workers in the Philippines 70% of the time

Facepalm: It’s not just office staff at risk of being replaced by AI, even fast food drive-thru workers are facing the unemployment line as machines are increasingly able to perform their jobs – or are they? A firm that provides this sort of technology has revealed that over 70% of its orders are completed by off-site humans.

Presto Automation, which calls itself one of the largest labor automation technology providers in the industry, revealed in an SEC filing that almost three-quarters of its orders are aided by off-site agents working in areas such as the Philippines. Presto previously claimed that 95% of orders received by its drive-thru chatbots were taken without human intervention.

Presto Automation provides its Presto Voice order-taking product to several fast-food outlets in the US, including Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Del Taco, and Checkers, promising to increase the companies’ profits by lowering labor costs.

The SEC filing reveals that 70% of orders taken by Presto Voice require human agent intervention. The company is aiming for that percentage to reach 30% or better as the tool is deployed in more locations. It added that off-site workers also help train the system.

Bloomberg writes that Presto Automation was notified by the SEC that it is under investigation over disclosures made “regarding certain aspects of its AI technology.” The exact nature of the probe is unknown.

This isn’t the first time a company has been less than forthcoming about how much human intervention is involved in its AI products. The Nate app, which promised to use AI to auto-fill customer information for $1 per transaction, often carried out this process using workers in the Philippines. There was also an AI tool used to automate the development of apps that was found to be relying mostly on human engineers.

Back in May, it was reported that fast-food giant Wendy’s had partnered with Google to trial an artificial intelligence chatbot at one of its restaurants in its home state, Ohio. The chatbot is trained to understand how customers typically order items from the menu and interact in a natural way.

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