Robots Gone Wild
Reader's Digest US|June 2021
What happens when you train a machine to take over for humans? It screws up—just as humans do.
Andy Simmons
ROBOTS REALLY ARE taking over the world. They’re writing novels—the first was 1 the Road, a cyborg’s homage to Jack Kerouac published in 2018. And they’re making lunch: The California restaurant chain CaliBurger is trying out a robot that can flip 2,000 burgers a day. What human can compete—especially given that androids don’t complain, ask for raises, or get drunk at the office Christmas party?

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the coining of the word robot by the Czech playwright Karel Capek, we thought it would be fun to take a look at another side of robotkind, one that’s all too human. Here’s a by-no-means-complete list of failed attempts by automatons to replace us flesh-and-bone types.

Hold the Beothurtreed

Janelle Shane, an optics research scientist, wanted to find out whether artificial intelligence could create a menu that didn’t taste, well, artificial. So she fed a computer 30,000 cookbook recipes and then programmed it to create its own recipes. The result: Something called “Beothurtreed Tuna Pie.” Want to make it? You’ll need these ingredients:

1 hard cooked apple mayonnaise

5 cup lumps, thinly sliced

Once you have your apple mayo and lumps, “surround with 1½ dozen heavy water by high, and drain & cut into ¼ in. remaining the skillet.”

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