A cafe where the robot waiters are remote-piloted by paralyzed people

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/02/time-of-eve.html


inspired by a fictional cafe of the same name in the 2008 anime Time of Eve

The “of the same name” bit is incorrect. The design is inspired by that fictional cafe, but the name of the cafe in the anime is the same as the title, “Time of Eve”.


You know, I have mixed feelings about this.

Yay for differently abled people being able to mix with other people in a new and novel way and to be able to work if they want to!

Boo for anyone who wants extremely disabled people to have to work…


** Reads blurb
Yay! That’s so friggin’ cool!

*** Watches video
Oh damn, this place would make me feel so guilty every time I walked past it to the cafe where the servers move at more than 1/4mph


Came here to say exactly this. It would be the perfect opportunity for Trump-style fascism to drive down the acceptable threshold for a disabled person’s “usefulness to society”.

“Look, he can move his eyes. That’s enough to operate the robot. No free lunch. Goddamn freeloaders!”


It would be bad if they HAVE to work, but most people would prefer to have something productive to do with their time if given the option.

I haven’t read this book but the concept reminds me of a less extreme version of the society described in John Scalzi’s Lock In, in which a significant portion of humanity is rendered physically immobile but conscious and thus interacts with the rest of society via robot bodies controlled remotely with neural interfaces.


I think we’re almost there already.


Agreed. I don’t think anyone had any complaints or “mixed feelings” about the fact that Stephen Hawking was able to continue his career as a professor despite his disabilities. Why is this any different?

As an aside, my father in law had ALS and used one of those eye-tracking tablets to commicate toward the end. I tried it a few times myself. It’s real work to use one for more than a few minutes. Our eyes just haven’t evolved to repeatedly stare at fixed points for several seconds at a time all day long.


Do you understand the difference between HAVE TO and WANT TO in this context?

Do you understand the political environment in which having some employment like this available makes me nervous that this will become an expectation instead of an outlier?


Well, if that were true I wouldn’t have all this ding-dang millennials bumping into me on the sidewalk with their noses in their dag-nabbit* phones!

writes from phone, on the sidewalk, as a borderline millenial

*autocorrect suggested “dabbing” which seemed remarkably appropriate, in context.


What is it specifically about “employment like this” that makes you nervous? And your earlier use of the term “mixed feelings” is what stuck out for me. Do you have “mixed feelings” about the fact that many thousands of wheelchair-bound folks are already able to work their chosen careers in office buildings or other settings?

I guess I don’t see the fundamental difference between people using this technology as a way to have a career that they otherwise might not be able to have and the other technologies that people with varying levels of disability have used for many decades to allow them to work other careers in the past. Being a member of waitstaff is just as valid a career path as office worker or astrophysicist.


You’d prefer if there were NOT employment options available for disabled people?


My argument, in a nutshell:

I don’t want to FORCE disabled people to work. I don’t want to have a societal expectation that disabled people should have to work. I don’t want a disabled person’s existence to be governed by their ability to be economically productive.

If a disabled person WANTS to work, great, that’s good. More power to them. That’s great. But it is significantly harder for a disabled person to make a living in the world - even WITH adaptive devices and everything - and I don’t want to force them to do it if they don’t want to. I don’t want a disabled person to not have the resources to live because they just can’t do it.

If you think I’m a bad person because I don’t want to FORCE disabled people into driving “robots” or “self driving cars” all day, then that’s something I’ll gladly accept.

With leaders like Trump, how long do you think it would take to go from optional to mandatory? Got to cut that SSI budget somewhere, eh?


So we’re in agreement that this is an example of something good. Fantastic.


It’s a neat idea, but the thing was that this was basically set up for only a week to show off Ory robots. I’m skeptical that it wouldn’t be the case that you just skip the human operators and run the robots.

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god forbid they just pay them welfare :roll_eyes:

this idea everyone must be “useful” or “earn their keep” while others make tens or hundreds of times the median salary needs to end


Still not seeing any indication that they aren’t.

People don’t always get jobs because they have to. Even when one’s basic physical needs are met it’s perfectly normal to seek out ways to be productive in a social setting. Retirees volunteer as museum docents or work as Walmart greeters, stinking rich people run foundations, etc.

It’s not so hard to imagine a person with ALS who actually wants a chance to interact with other people via remote controlled robot.


the article IMHO implies it’s good that they are working, not that it’s good they are enabled to work if they think it would be fulfilling.

This will be a big problem for any universal basic income. Some people will always have “hustle”. How do you ensure those who are physically incapable of such “hustle” get a good floor on their standard of living without driving up inflation (as rents, good prices, etc rise to meet the new minimum).


Just keep Greer away from the system kill switch, okay.