Introducing Makr Shakr: Your Friendly Neighborhood (Robot) Bartender

The Makr Shakr in action

“Hey there barkeep. It’s been a hell of a day. How about a Maker’s Manhattan, up, dry, and easy on the cherries?”

“Bloop, bleep, bloopbloop, bleep.”

You’re probably thinking, “What the hell was that? Bloop yourself Collin.” Wow. You’re mean and impatient, and you’re going to feel real dumb when I explain to you that the above exchange is between a businessman and a robot bartender.

Whoa, whoa. Now you’re probably thinking, “Robot bartender? Uh, hey, dumbo? We don’t live in the future.”

Well friends, the future is now. And apparently, it’s filled with robot bartenders. Don’t believe me? Who’s the dumbo now?

According to this article from theatlantic.com (and, truth be told, many other places on the web) researchers from MIT, Bacardi, and Coca-Cola have teamed up to create the Makr Shakr, a robotic bartender that’s capable of creating a googol (which is basically like a smidge less than infinity) of drink combinations. The robot is controlled by a smartphone app that lets users mix and match ingredients in real time to create their own special concoctions as well as interact with each other’s recipes for ideas and inspiration. See it in action here:

The Makr Shakr is being unveiled today, May 15th, 2013 at Google I/O in San Francisco. The marketers behind this project swear that they aren’t trying to put bartenders out of a job. Instead, it’s just…well…marketing. It’s a way for users to have a unique, memorable social experience that sparks conversations about the intersections of art and science, humanity and post-humanity.

I totally get that, but I’m not at all sure I totally believe it. Sure a great bartender does much more than just sling drinks. He or she serves as a friendly ear, a confessor, a conversationalist, and a whole hell of alot more. But in 20 years or so when this technology is no longer revolutionary or remarkable (i.e. when it’s cheap), is it really hard to imagine some enterprising entrepreneurs deciding to cut costs by ditching the human element altogether? Seems more or less inevitable to me. And when that time comes, you better believe I’m becoming drinking buddies with Will Smith.

So what do you think? Is this just a cool project that ably demonstrates the power of human ingenuity? Or is it the birth of a bleak dystopia that drains all warmth out of our communal gathering spots and interactions? Hit us up in the bloopbleeping comments!

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