As companies look for ways to cut down on expenses and improve the customer experience, many are now starting to experiment with hiring robot employees.
But, as one Scottish grocery store recently found out, perhaps artificial intelligence isn't as smart as it should be.
Fabio, a robot developed by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, was recently hired at Margiotta, a Scottish supermarket, to help out its customers. The trial run for Fabio has been documented by the BBC show Six Robots and Us, and as viewers recently witnessed, it didn't go so well.
Store hires robot to help out customers, robot gets fired for scaring customers away https://t.co/jQArda0PDD https://t.co/zAmVlGbkjo— IFLScience (@IFLScience) 1516629757.0
While Fabio would often greet customers with a friendly "hello gorgeous" or a high-five, that's where his appeal ended. When asked questions about where to find specific products, instead of giving a specific aisle, he would give generic, unhelpful responses. For example, when asked where the cheese was, Fabio would respond, "cheese is in the fridges," or when asked where beer was, he would say it "is in the alcohol section."
To top it all off, when Fabio was tasked with handing out sausage samples, customers actually went out of their way to avoid him. The grocery store found that a human employee handing out sausages averaged 12 customers every 15 minutes, compares to two customers for Fabio in that same timespan.
"Hello Dave. You're looking well. Would you like to try a free sample, Dave?" https://t.co/gkzPrKInSM— IFLScience (@IFLScience) 1516635716.0
"Apparently people are quite suspicious of robots offering sausages". https://t.co/6GB8XZWzs7— IFLScience (@IFLScience) 1516631307.0
But here comes the heartbreak.
When told he was being fired, poor Fabio asked, "Are you angry?" And a fellow human employee actually cried when the little robot was being packed up.
The reaction came as a bit of shock to Dr. Oliver Lemon, who heads the Interaction Lab at the university. "One of things we didn't expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it," he admitted.
And even just in the span of reading the story, Twitter was equally attached and heartbroken:
@IFLScience That poor robot! How will he support his family now?— Danukian (@Danukian) 1516631108.0
@Danukian1 @IFLScience Robotic union. My next company. They violated his robotic rights.— Bashir G. 🌟🌟🌟 🌟 (@Bashir G. 🌟🌟🌟 🌟) 1516668499.0
@Bonibaru When they told the robot it was fired, the robot asked if they were angry. It was trying its best ok 😭🤖😭 https://t.co/n5kHbkCLEi— skeleton friend (@skeleton friend) 1516633165.0
@IFLScience Does it have an employement insurance?— Bullsvahin Aleph (@Bullsvahin Aleph) 1516632697.0
At the same time, they had to laugh:
This is one of the funniest things I’ve read lately. https://t.co/rFi4nDP8Z8— Lydia Schoch (@Lydia Schoch) 1516630575.0
@IFLScience I am imaging the robot combining the phrases into awkardness: "Hello, Gorgeous! Would you like to try my sausage?"— Danukian (@Danukian) 1516633677.0
@IFLScience It went something like this .... https://t.co/MCoc6c7jrP— Michael Nelson (@Michael Nelson) 1516663286.0
This first photo looks like something out of Black Mirror or Doctor Who. https://t.co/mkQx3akNvb— Matt Cocco (@Matt Cocco) 1516632149.0
We've all been there, Fabio. You'll get 'em next time:
@IFLScience The customers are the problem. We need robot customers, please,— Enrico Pascucci (@Enrico Pascucci) 1516634230.0
Me too bud, me too https://t.co/B3EjSDg5hp— kaylee stewart (@kaylee stewart) 1516633217.0
H/T: IFLScience, Twitter
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