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The Rise of Restaurant Robotics and AI: Addressing Labor Shortages While Sparking Unease

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

By ShonSpeaks

The small town of Estacada, Oregon recently welcomed an unusual new resident - Plato, a robotic server at local restaurant The Cazadero. As Plato spun and paused tableside, presenting diners with their meals, reactions ranged from bemused curiosity to outright rejection. While some customers embraced the quirky robot, others staunchly refused service, catalyzing fierce debate between defenders of technology and proponents of tradition.

This divide mirrors responses when elevators evolved from manually operated cars to electric, self-service lifts in the late 19th century. Early passengers were hesitant to enter an elevator without an attendant, fearing everything from technical failures to social impropriety. But over time, elevators transformed from novelty to necessity, enabling the construction of skyscrapers.

Much like elevators, Plato represents innovation driven by economic realities. Due to Oregon's rising minimum wage and a shortage of local workers willing to commute, staffing a rural restaurant has become challenging. Owner Sherry Andrus turned to robotics to alleviate strained resources. However, skeptical residents recoiled, accusing Plato of "replacing people" rather than merely assisting overwhelmed employees.

While technology invariably causes disruption, it often emerges as a solution to new socioeconomic problems. Elevators enabled rapid urbanization; similarly, AI and robotics address unsustainable labor costs and shortages plaguing today's service industry. As small businesses struggle to stay afloat, technology could provide a lifeline.

Rather than outrage, the introduction of Plato warrants open-mindedness. Just as elevators evolved from a novel innovation into an indispensable utility, robotics hold promise to aid industries in transition. With time and exposure, wary customers may reconsider. Much like the first elevator passengers, initial discomfort may give way to acceptance, even appreciation.

Rural communities face a choice - reject new solutions in the name of tradition, or leverage technology to adapt to changing times. As people once learned to trust elevators, rural businesses should view innovation as an opportunity, not a threat. In the end, an openness to progress enables communities to build upon the past while navigating the future.

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La Shon Y. Fleming Bruce a/k/a SHONSPEAKS is a blogger and mental wealth coach for those who are experiencing overwhelm, anxiety, depression or a feeling of not belonging in a world growing in artificial intelligence and are ready to break the chains of the poverty mindset and limitations caused by religious, social and political ideology.  I am also certified brain health specialist, and lead creator of   I am also a lawyer and managing member of The Fleming-Bruce Law Firm, P.L.L.C.  If you want to check out more of my writings and other video that may not be released on this site, go over to my website at

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