HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Whether it's the streets lined with 'help needed' signs or unusually long wait times, it's apparent that the nation is facing a nationwide labor shortage.
One solution to this issue is introducing more artificial intelligence into the workforce, particularly within the foodservice industry.
"I think we're going to see if this continues for a while, we're gonna see more businesses are actually trying to automate as much as possible. Because if you can't find people to do the job, you're going to do the job with fewer people and more machines," said UAH College of Business Associate Dean Dr. Wafa Hakim Orman.
The idea of replacing humans with robots and machines has been seen over and over throughout history.
"Today, we don't really have, you know, a large labor force involved in the industrial production of food. Automotive manufacturing used to be very manual a few decades ago. Now a large percentage of every car that is driving on the road has been assembled, quality tested by robots," said Founder and CEO of RoboChef Inc. Aravind Durai.
Although this method is controversial to some in the sense that people may feel as if AI is taking jobs away from them, but there are many benefits as well, such as improved consistency, quality, safety and sanitation.
Even the challenges of something like this are beneficial.
If robots take over those jobs requiring fewer skills, more jobs requiring more skills will be offered, therefore pushing our society towards more education.
"People are going to start reframing what they would like to do as part of their career and now they're able to perhaps move up you know, the skill set chain, if you will, in order to be able to take on higher-skilled jobs," said Durai.
All of this can be seen in action at a local sandwich shop: Dipwich. The first-ever Smart Cookie Robot works and plays at the restaurant.
"The technology that is going to be omnipresent in the foodservice industry is going to, in a fundamental way, change the landscape in the future. But that hasn't happened yet. Think of us as the tip of the spear if you will. And we are doing that in Huntsville," said Durai.