McDonalds, Artificial Intelligence, and Selling More

The piece below is about the fact that McDonald’s is investing heavily in technology, including artificial intelligence (A.I.) in an effort to, well, sell more burgers and fries. And of course, that’s basically what most companies try to do — to sell more. (Can you think of exceptions?) Many people worry, of course, that it’s socially bad if McDonald’s sells more, since a Double Cheeseburger isn’t really all that healthy for you. Of course, consumed in moderation, the company’s food is a yummy treat. But their goal isn’t moderation; it’s to get you to eat more so that they can charge you more.

There are many mechanisms companies make use of in trying to sell more — they advertise, they, offer innovative new products, and so on. Is there something especially worrisome about McDonald’s investing in A.I. rather than, say, spending more on advertising?

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LINK: Would You Like Fries With That? McDonald’s Already Knows the Answer (by David Yaffe-Bellany for NY Times)

McDonald’s has a new plan to sell more Big Macs: Act like Big Tech.

Over the last seven months, McDonald’s has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire technology companies that specialize in artificial intelligence and machine learning. And the fast-food chain has even established a new tech hub in the heart of Silicon Valley — the McD Tech Labs — where a team of engineers and data scientists is working on voice-recognition software.

The goal? To turn McDonald’s, a chain better known for supersized portions than for supercomputers, into a saltier, greasier version of Amazon.

In recent years, fast-food sales have slowed across the United States, as Americans turn to healthier alternatives. While it has performed better than many of its rivals, McDonald’s has lost customers, closed restaurants and seen its quarterly sales dip below analysts’ expectations.

The chain’s new emphasis on technology is a bid to reverse that trend….

What do you think?


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