“1.) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”
– Isaac Asimov
Is it Time to Discuss the Three Laws of Robotics?
The robots have arrived in the food service industry, and they may quickly take over. In fact, Caliburger’s “Flippy” robot is prepared to take over right now. Flippy can do many of the manual aspects of cooking, such as flipping burgers (hence the name). John Miller, CEO of the Cali Group, says the entire kitchen can be automated, from self-ordering kiosks to how the food is cooked. But it’s not just Caliburger that’s embracing robots; Yum China is also using new technology. Smile to Pay is a facial recognition payment system that does just what the name says: lets customers pay with a scan of their face and a phone number. Whether you’re for or against this type of technology, just remember that robots can’t hurt you — that would be against the First Law.
Time Out: There’s a Flag on the Overtime Rule
This past November an injunction followed lawsuits from 21 states and business groups about the Obama administration’s attempt to expand overtime rules. Previously, the salary level threshold for overtime pay was $23,660, and it was suggested to be raised to $47,476. Judge Amos Mazzant III threw a flag on the play by dismissing this expansion, stating that the rule overstepped Congress’ intentions. However, this is only a time out since Mazzant’s ruling could result in a salary-level test. The National Restaurant Association plans to work with the Department of Labor to make sure “workable changes” are put in place in the restaurant industry. We’ll have to wait and see what the final score of the game is in the future.
Restaurant Industry Banding Together to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims
There is still some good in the world, and people can work together. The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, is still being assessed, but Accuweather is predicting that there will be a $190 billion impact on the economy. This doesn’t even account for the impact of hurt and killed victims that were caught in the storm. Regardless, the restaurant industry is working together to help Houston residents. Grants are being set up to help restaurant and hospitality workers get back on their feet. Tens of thousands of pounds of food are being sent in to feed people in shelters and volunteers, and clean water is being sent in. Food service businesses and foundations around the country are doing anything they can to help those in need. Among those looking to make a difference are: the Louisiana Restaurant Association, The Commander’s Family of Restaurants, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Salata, Chipotle, Little Caesar’s, Whataburger, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Starbucks, and Amazon. We’d raise a glass of beer and make a toast to all of these great organizations helping out, but all the breweries have halted production to can drinking water for Houston. In this case, a glass of water will definitely suffice. Cheers.
Will Higher Gas Prices add to Hurricane Harvey’s Impact on Restaurants?
Even though early reports claim that refineries in Houston and Corpus Christi are doing fine after Hurricane Harvey, gas prices are continuing to rise. While this may be a short-term problem due to refineries and pipelines being closed in Texas, it may have a longer term effect on the restaurant industry. Nation’s Restaurant News explains that modest fluctuations generally don’t have much of an impact; however, dramatic rubber band effects (prices go up and then below normal) and spikes (prices go up and then back to normal) can affect consumer habits. With Hurricane Irma on its way and Trump tapping into emergency oil reserves, changes in gas availability and prices may continue.
Honey, We Shrunk the Fish
Warming ocean temperatures are melting the polar ice caps, changing habitats and affecting animals all over the world. According to Global Change Biology, fish are among the latest victims. Because fish cannot regulate their body temperature, their metabolism has to speed up to adjust to warmer water temperatures. According to the experts, faster metabolisms result in smaller fish. In fact, Yale Environment reports that for every degree Celsius the ocean heats up, active fish may decrease in size up to 30 percent. While this could potentially have a major impact on the environment and oceanic food chain, it may also impact the food service industry as the the total yield of commercial fish catches could drop by as much as 3.4 million tons for each degree of warming. Simply put, smaller and less plentiful fish mean higher prices for restaurants and consumers alike. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened yet. There may still be time to find Wayne Slazinski and his laser to make fish big again.