Add "master chef" to the list of occupations that robots can perform more efficiently than humans. It's a tally that seems to grow daily; last time I checked, it also included stock room employee, auto assembly line worker, bank teller, pharmacist and 2016 presidential candidate.
At a recent German technology fair, London-based Moley Robotics unveiled two artificial hands, mounted above a cooktop surface and hanging innocuously alongside an assortment of common kitchen utensils. But, when activated, the hands proved they were infinitely smarter than your average whisk.
The robotic arms grabbed, mixed and stirred an assortment of ingredients, resulting in succulent crab bisque. If Moley has its way, the robot chef will someday be the "must-have" futuristic innovation in every kitchen, joining smart grills, smoothie makers, iPhone-controlled coffee pots and banana hangers. The last, incidentally, does not require electricity or an Internet connection. I added it just because I think it looks ridiculous. Bananas are a fruit, not a decoration. Ask any chimpanzee.
Since the Schwems are not big crab bisque consumers, I won't be welcoming the robot with (real) open arms any time soon. But, as the head of a busy family of four, I might be interested in an automated kitchen friend, provided it understands the needs and wants of my family when it comes to the foods we eat, how said food is prepared and the matter in which it is consumed. After reading my suggestions, Moley best get to work reprogramming its bisque-making arms.
First, the robot must realize that, at any given moment, my teenage daughters could turn vegan while shunning gluten, soy, dairy and, quite possibly, flavor. These dietary restrictions may be lifted before the end of the meal and replaced with other demands. The point is that the robot should be prepared to abandon whatever it is currently cooking and start over.
Next, it needs to cook only foods that can be prepared in under 10 minutes, taste delicious (even if being consumed in the back of an SUV or while standing up) and can easily be reheated. I say this because my family eats at 6 p.m. unless there is an emergency soccer practice, in which case we eat at 5:15, provided we don't drive the car pool that evening or have to sacrifice a car to accommodate my older daughter's work schedule. Should that occur, we will eat at 4:30 or possibly 8:30. And that's on Tuesdays.
The robot might also want to poll my wife and daughters before actually combining ingredients, given their propensity to order everything "on the side" when eating in restaurants. Requesting a Cobb salad from TGI Fridays sounds like this: "And I'd like it with no bleu cheese, extra tomatoes, bacon and onions on the side, cabbage on the side and a side of chicken in cubes. Dressing on the side as well."
Fifteen minutes later, a bloodcurdling scream emanates from the kitchen followed, I'm certain, by a letter of resignation from the chef. Meanwhile, a bowl of lettuce arrives at our table along with two thirds of the restaurant's dinnerware, each containing a single ingredient. The restaurant's dishwasher also resigns.
Finally, the robot's arms must extend at least 20 feet in length, making them capable of slapping food from my hands, particularly if that food item is a deep fried chicken wing, a Krispy Kreme doughnut or a scoop of any Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. In one swift motion, the robot must replace these delicious, yet belt-stretching morsels with a container of low-fat yogurt or a broccoli stalk.
Moley, perfect these requests and I will gather my family at the dinner table, eagerly awaiting whatever creation you deign to prepare. Feel free to start with the crab bisque.
Just make sure the crab is on the side.
(c) 2015 GREG SCHWEM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.