How does McDonald’s AI system really behave at the drive-thru window?
It turns out that at least some customers might not be too keen on the idea of speaking to a voice that one ZDNet writer compares to “the exact same robot voice you’ve heard in every movie of disturbing science fiction. It’s like Siri’s daughter just got her first job.” In August 2020, a TikTok user called the system “the most dystopian thing I’ve ever seen in the 27 years of my life. 2020 is crazy.” as she filmed herself using the system to order two medium Oreo McFlurries.
McDonald’s has also been sued by an Illinois customer named Shannon Carpenter, who believes the fast-food giant should obtain her consent before obtaining her voiceprint. The lawsuit, by Restaurant Business, claimed that “McDonald’s AI voice assistant goes beyond real-time voiceprint analysis and recognition and also incorporates ‘machine learning routines’ that use voice recognition in combination with license plate scanning technology to identify unique customers regardless of where they visit and present them with certain menu items based on their past visits.” de Carpenter alleges that this violates the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires businesses to notify customers if biometric information is taken.