Earlier this month, AI startup DataSparQ introduced AI Bar, a system that automates the selection of who’s got next for drink orders. It’s being used at 5cc Harrild & Sons in London and has some initial good reviews from customers.

With use of anonymized facial recognition, the AI Bar’s promotional video makes it seem like a solution to a serious problem, but I’m not so sure.

Even when things get busy, most of the bartenders I’ve come across are pretty good at their jobs. Sometimes you get skipped and have to speak up for yourself, but that’s not a bad thing.

My attraction to charming dive bars over crowded nightclubs certainly shapes my perception here, but this system deserves to be questioned. Though it might be helpful in the moment, it doesn’t seem necessary.

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AI is reshaping the definition of art, health, and intelligence, and that change can have consequences. People have to consider the possibilities when determining whether or not an AI system should be adopted, but people should also consider whether a system will replace an essential human skill.

Some characteristics, like the ability to speak up for yourself, shouldn’t atrophy or weaken because of AI, because every individual needs that skill in life.

AI Bar exists in an atmosphere in which companies – through robots and other applications of AI — are making things so convenient you barely have to leave your home anymore or feel any need to engage with the outside world.

The impact of AI on the human brain is in the news lately as companies like Neuralink consider embedding hardware in people’s skulls.

Writing for the Financial Times this week, Susan Schneider pondered how brain implants will impact human intelligence, job competition, and so on. She concludes that if people ever get to the point where they feel a device is capable of mimicking their brain, some might get rid of their brain entirely. Whether this can ever be done seems questionable to say the least, but if such a thing was ever possible, it would mean people surrender their humanity.

If systems like AI Bar become widespread, civilization won’t crumble, and it’s certainly far short of a brain implant, but when people hand over faculties to a machine, unintended consequences can lead to harm. In the case of systems like AI Bar, people should consider the potential for the degeneration of human skills.

As always, if you come across a story that merits coverage, send news tips to Khari Johnson and Kyle Wiggers — and be sure to bookmark our AI Channel and subscribe to the AI Weekly newsletter.

Thanks for reading,

Khari Johnson

Senior AI staff writer