The Human Behind The Curtain

Behind the AI chatbots and delivery robots are human workers, hidden from sight, keeping everything running.

Since ChatGPT took the world by storm last fall, people have been in a frenzy debating the impact artificial intelligence and other new automated technology will have on America’s job market. The “robots are taking our jobs” narrative was further boosted by viral videos showing new, “fully automated” McDonald’s and Taco Bell restaurants.

The knee-jerk reaction to these videos is to say that robots are coming for our jobs, but while AI and other kinds of automation have progressed, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily eliminating jobs. Instead, the new tech is simply changing how we work and what kinds of jobs exist. Automation technology has ushered in a fleet of secret workers behind screens, machines, and smiling robot faces. The robots and chatbots aren’t replacing humans, they’re just keeping the people out of sight and out of mind. And while separating the customer from the workers serving them may be good for the companies, there’s mounting evidence it’s a terrible deal for the employees.

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