You’ve heard of the “uncanny valley,” right? It’s meant to describe the revulsion or unease people feel towards artificial representations of humans — unless they either look nothing like us or simulate us perfectly. To greatly simplify the idea, the more human-like artificial intelligence becomes, the more it makes us uncomfortable. That is, until we come out the other side with perfectly realistic disco robots, like in Ex Machina.
This is what I was contemplating as I sat in a weird half-booth facing the wall at a Los Angeles Burger King earlier this week. Staring at the yellowed wallpaper — decorated with BK-initials and squiggly lines — I began to lose my sense of reality. I grew disoriented, simultaneously eating two separate halves of the same burger. Looking at the remains of them both, under the flickering neon lights, I grew unsure which was which. Time stretched and collapsed in odd rhythms as I went back and forth between bites.
One of the burgers in front of me was the Classic BK Whopper; the other was the just-released Impossible Whopper. I was tasked with taste testing them both, pitting their flavors against each other. This proved confusing but not impossible. Because though the new, plant-based Whopper had officially passed the Turing Test of my taste-buds, I did have a favorite between the two.