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NYU Visionary Creates ‘Bot To Print Out Burritos, But Really Wants You To Think About Them As You Nom


06.20.12 David Lumb

Marko Manriquez, graduate student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, has solved the problem you didn’t believe would be fixed in your lifetime: a robot that makes you a burrito on command. Manriquez’ creation, dubbed “Burritob0t,” uses 3D printer tech and ingredient-packed syringes to shape your Tex-mex treat with digital artistry. The ‘bot isn’t quite ready for public testing, but Manriquez’ vision doesn’t stop at proof-of-concept: he’s on track to create a Kickstarter to carry the project into the open market accompanied by web, tablet, and mobile apps to allow control over just how much chile you want with your con carne.

Sadly, packing ingredients into syringes requires them to be, er, packed – into a uniform, paste-like consistency, says The NY Daily News. Nor is Manriquez boasting of his ‘bot’s superiority to the unhindered chef – but striving for quality isn’t the point. YOU pack the ingredients, says Manriquez; YOU punch in the order that creates your burrito. Such control eliminates the barriers we so lazily allow to stand between where our food comes from – its chemical makeup, the accessibility of fresh goods in scarce locations, the labor practices that let food come cheap – and the finished meal set in front of us, tastefully arranged to obscure how many corners were cut on the way. The robot cuts out the middleman, giving the user control and personal nutritional responsibility – but the awareness creates dependence on such transparency. In other words, somewhere down the line that Manriquez has put us on, those ‘bots could be the only low-cost chefs in town: after all, they don’t need health benefits and cost-of-living wage increases. (Yet.) Thus, the question: does the road to guiltless food require cyborg symbioses? Is that our only option to make food that’s healthy and fair for every human along the pipe?

Logistical philosophy aside, like any brave conquistador, Manriquez is throwing bot-takeover caution to the winds in his quest to mix technology with his other love, good food. His moral ground has kept him on the artistic side of corporate profiteering, but he does intend to make money off of it – specifically, for sale in a home or gallery, says his website.