So this past weekend I visited a friend in Jersey City.  And we began to notice that any time that we googled a restaurant to go to, there was a “Make a Reservation” button.  My friend, who is all around much more tech savvy than me, explained that this is part of a new AI that Google is rolling out, where if you give the AI the time you want and a computer generated voice will call the restaurant for you.  

I had some downtime while my friend went to get his hair cut, and he recommended a coffeeshop near his barber that I could sit at for a bit.  He pulled up Google Maps to double check its address and… there’s “Make a Reservation” again.

For a coffeeshop.

Like most people who’s only understanding of AI comes from movies like Terminator and Space Odyssey 3000, I used to have a vague mistrust of AI.  But, after seeing some of the goofy shit people train neutral networks to do, I don’t necessarily think that AI may inherently be the all-knowing evil masterminds we think they are. And even though Google removed the “don’t be evil” clause from their code of conduct, implying that they could just as well only be doing evil at this point, it’s hard to find any malice in this move.  Not that any particularly interesting data could be gleaned by an AI that makes dinner reservations anyway.  

My best guess is that Google wants to muscle in on Yelp’s turf, considering that site has had a similar feature since 2017.  Unfortunately, Google may have been a bit too eager to roll this one out.  

I feel the need to point out that I’ve since tried to replicate these results with a couple of restaurants, takeout places and coffeeshops closer to me, but to no avail.  The restaurants with real tables had the button, the fakers did not.  

Maybe Google hasn’t implemented this feature as widely in my area has they have in the NYC area, where there’s probably much more of a need for making quick reservations.  Maybe Google’s AI was just trying extra hard because said friend has a Pixel. Maybe Google’s been fine-tuning their AI to be better at deciphering what kinds of restaurants are capable of holding reservations.  Maybe Google saw me talking shit in my early draft of this saved in Google Docs and is now trying to gaslight me.  

One thought on “Google’s Reservation-Making AI has High Intelligence/Low Wisdom

  1. RJG says:

    Weirdly it’s still up for the coffee shop in question.

    But also tried City of Saints Coffee in Hoboken and don’t see it. However, that place doesn’t have any seating.

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