Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for September 11th, 2019


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Ronald McDonald retired around the time of the creepy clown sightings began popping up several years ago. But McDonald’s isn’t resting on its fast food franchise laurels.

Yesterday the company announced it had agreed to acquire voice AI firm Apprente to help the company automate drive-thru orders (which could also cut down on service times).

According to a report from CNBC, Apprente’s employees will be founding members of “McD Tech Labs,” a tech shop embedded in Mickey D’s global tech team.

This move builds on the company’s investment in March of Dynamic Yield, whose ML technology was deployed in more than 8,000 U.S. drive-thrus, and whose tech changes menus based on time of day, weather, traffic, and the customer’s order, with the end goal of upselling.

Today’s Morning Brew suggested this was a “defensive” move by McDonald’s, “ensuring it gets access to key AI tech before Wendy’s and Burger King can get their hands on it.”

There’s a lot at stake in the coming AI burger wars…turnover is inordinately high at fast food chains, and McD’s alone employs over 1.8M workers in 34,000 restaurants worldwide. Those algos don’t complain about low wages, few benefits, and long hours.

So in my best speech-to-text voice, here goes: Would you like fries with that?

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2019 at 2:11 pm

9/11 Communication

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I’ve been thinking about the 18th anniversary of 9/11 a number of days in advance. Hard to believe it’s been so many years now — sending thoughts, prayers, and remembrance to all those impacted in the NYC area and beyond.

It was a hard day for any American, and as NYC had been my only second home outside of Texas, it was a particularly hard day. I spent much of it here in Austin scrambling to reach good friends and colleagues any way I could — long distance, AOL IM, the phone. Broadcast news was still king, and Peter Jennings did an epic 60 hours in his anchor chair at ABC News to provide much needed information to the country.

It was a different tech landscape in 2001. There were no iPhones, yet Blackberries were a communications lifeline. The New York Times pulled graphics from its front page to hurry up the page load. Pagers were still relevant, as were pay phones.

To be clear, I remember and write about the technology because, on that fateful day, for many it was all that connected us to the people we cared about.

In this age of big tech skepticism and so-called fake news, it would be good for us to remember that it still does.

WIRED has a full write-up here.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2019 at 10:06 am

Posted in 2019, blackberry, september 11

Tagged with , ,

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