Mechanical Turk Drive-Through

Daniela Sirtori-Cortina, Bloomberg:

Presto Automation Inc. pitched a restaurant industry desperate to combat rising wages on a talking chatbot that could take orders with almost no human intervention. The firm touted OpenAI’s Sam Altman as an early investor. And it has used the firm’s technology to improve its system as it aims to triple deployments to 1,200 locations next year.

But disclosures in recent filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and changes to marketing suggest that the technology is less autonomous than it first appeared. The company, which went public last year, now says “off-site agents” working in locales such as the Philippines help during more than 70% of customer interactions to make sure its AI system doesn’t mess up.

The “blockchain” rebranding of yesterday has become the “A.I.” marketing of today.