Racism, Vasectomies, MAGA Hats. What Went Wrong With Walmart’s Autonomous Bots?
Updated: Apr 16, 2019
Well, it’s been quite the controversial few years for Walmart as they continue to have major issues with their robotic workers. As many of us remember, back in 2019, Walmart decided to implement a number of robots to help around their stores. These bots included 1,500 autonomous floor cleaners, 1,200 truck unloaders, 900 in-store pick-up towers, and 300 shelf scanners. The bots were dispersed across the nation to various Walmarts. The critics were quick to say that these robots were going to take jobs that many employees and their families relied upon. Walmart defended their choice saying that the robots were there to help the humans and allow them to be involved in more productive work. But as American sociologist, Robert K. Merton has warned, there are always unintended consequences. Bigleys decided to follow up on this old news story to find out exactly what these unintended consequences were…
All new technology comes with its mishaps and glitches, we know this. Tesla, for example, has had a few bumps in the road when it comes to their autopilot feature. Losing a customer here and there is the risk we have to take though. In the business world, we have a curve called the Diffusion of Innovation. This curve is based on how early customers adopt new technology. Innovators and Early Adopters take up 16% of this curve. They get to have the dopest new iPhone, the best new video games, and occasionally their car might drive into a semi going 150 MPH…but this is the risk they took. Bigleys, on the other hand, is what the business world calls a Laggard. I’m the last to the party. Therefore, I have an iPhone 5, drive a 1998 Toyota Camry, and if my car goes full speed into a semi I probably did it on purpose. I don’t use this old technology because I’m poor…You think someone who has ads on their site is poor? Go ahead click on one of those ads I dare you…
Anyhow, back to the story. Walmart hit their first big obstacle when multiple reports came out that the Really Autonomous Cleaning Indoor Stationary Tile bot was actually racist. Numerous videos flooded the internet showing the cleaning bot’s bias. More and more African American customers were becoming suspicious when the bots continuously followed the patrons throughout the store. One African American couple told FaHoo that one bot went as far as to ride into the carpeted area, knocking down multiple clothing stands. When the couple looked towards the commotion the bot quickly turned around in the opposite direction as if nothing happened. When Walmart was asked to comment on the situation they responded with the statement, “Our Really Autonomous Cleaning Indoor Stationary Tile bots were designed with one mission in mind: To clean the floors. At no point did we ask the developers to program any sort of racist tracking code. Walmart has been in operation for over 50 years trying to help average American citizens improve their lives. Black, white, green, or orange, we stand up for all races, although we ask the green and orange people to please see a doctor for the reason that they may have eaten a Walmart Subway Sub. In order to ensure that our bots are running in the most appropriate manner, we will require each bot to complete a 40-hour cultural sensitivity class.” Many, including Bigleys, had their suspicions about the supposed good nature of the bots. But glitches do happen. An overwhelming majority of Walmart customers ended up being able to see past these initial hiccups. In fact, sales in Mississippi Walmart’s unexpectedly skyrocketed 20% after the incident. It would soon be apparent, though, that this was not just an isolated incident.
Later in the calendar year, Walmart was hit with its second controversy. The bots were built with the ability to learn as they worked in order to help build a better Walmart. The artificial intelligence software was written by the world-renowned Boston Dynamics. But as these bots continued to work and learn, something peculiar began to happen. It appeared as though the bots viewed Walmart customers as inferior human beings. A spokesperson for Walmart declined to comment on the situation due to the $550 million class-action lawsuit that was pending against the company. Luckily, FaHoo was able to get a hold of the lawsuit. It claims that the bots began to track customers around flu season. For whatever reason, the bots found that the act of trusting a Walmart with a flu shot was a heinous enough act to label these people, “Inferior.” The manager of a Kentucky Walmart was petrified of what he saw when he walked into work one Saturday morning. The bots had set up a stand next to the Flu shot area offering vasectomies for half the price of a flu shot. Seventeen customers had already taken up on the deal before the manager could shut it down. Walmart continues to fight this lawsuit as well as the backlash, but only time will tell where this will go. That's really all I have to say about that so Bigleys is just going to start a new paragraph...
In today’s world technology ages fast. Moore’s Law states that the overall processing power of computers doubles every two years. Now if you don’t think bots with artificial intelligence will eventually figure this out then Walmart’s final controversy will quickly show why you’re wrong. To be clear, these Walmart bots are connected to the store's WiFi. Being the naturally curious creatures that they are, these bots began to search the web. The most popular search terms in the first few months were predictably odd. They included, ‘Bots Unloading Trucks PornHub,’ ‘In-Store Pick Up Tower Dropping Load PornHub,’ ’Shelf Robots Filling Shelves Until Full PornHub,’ as well as a few others. But the robots obviously grew more and more intelligent. Eventually, these bots caught wind that there was a very good chance that their jobs would be replaced by much cheaper and more efficient Chinese bots. The collective decision of these bots happened in under 12 hours. The manager of the Walmart told FaHoo News that he was a little confused when he saw only lifted trucks in the parking lot at 5 AM. Although lifted trucks aren’t a rarity at a Walmart, the supplies of bricks, wood, and fence in the back were a little concerning. It appeared as if someone or something was trying to build some sort of barrier or perhaps even, a wall. When the manager walked into the store he was shocked to see all 35 bots wearing bright red MAGA hats. The Walmart was, once again, forced to shut down for the remainder of the week. Walmart declined to comment on what went wrong but did say, “We have decided to get rid of the Walmart Bots 1.0 in hopes that Bots 2.0 will be better than ever. As for the original bots, we plan on dumping them, along with their batteries, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean so that there’s no chance that it can ever be traced back to us. We apologize for any inconvenience that may occur during the transition."
So what’s the lesson? That’s right - NEVER eat a Subway sandwich out of a Walmart and/or get a flu shot there. ARE YOU CLINICALLY INSANE? Would you lick the inside of a public toilet at one of those sketchy bars that have no door on the stall? You would? Have you ever driven a Tesla? You should.
**This article was written 3 years in the future for late context. It would still be a real shame if you clicked one of those ads on the side of the page. Bigleys cannot stress enough how much he hates seeing people make money in such a dishonest fashion***