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Coronavirus boosts cloud kitchens as foodie Asians order in

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Singapore’s Ebb & Flow Group took an unusual route to creating one of its most popular food items: analysing more than 200,000 data points to predict customer preference and potential demand.

The result, launched shortly before the coronavirus sent the city into lockdown, was Wrap Bstrd – wraps with fillings such as chicken satay rice and beef bulgogi, borne from the insight that customers preferred Asian flavours in a fuss-free fashion.

“We were able to combine advanced behavioural data capabilities and pattern analyses with the expertise of our chefs to create a brand and menu that was specifically tailored for our customers,” said chief executive Lim Kian Chun.

“It is Singapore’s first food and beverage brand that is driven entirely by insights derived from artificial intelligence,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ebb & Flow Group is one of a growing number of companies operating restaurant kitchens known as “dark”, “cloud” or “ghost” kitchens, which have no physical presence, and offer delivery-only services from a centralised location through a mobile app.

Often operating out of warehouses and semi-industrial buildings on the outskirts of cities, dark kitchens allow for burgers and biryanis to be made in the same location, and delivered directly to consumers ordering online.

While food delivery was already on the rise in recent years with aggregators such as Zomato, Uber Eats and foodpanda, coronavirus lockdowns and concerns about eating out have precipitated a boom in these services lately, analysts say.

“The cloud kitchen model was already gaining momentum, now it is at a tipping point for the model to be fully utilised because of the shift to at-home consumption,” said Ali Potia, a partner at consulting firm McKinsey.

“We are now starting to see data-driven menu design and pricing for greater personalisation. It

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You can now order Miso Robotics’ latest kitchen robot for $30,000

Miso Robotics today announced that its newest kitchen robot, Flippy Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR), is now commercially available. The final design, which can cook up to 19 food items, mounts the robot on a recessed overhead rail to avoid interfering with human staff. On the backend, improvements to ChefUI, Miso’s software, aim to assist staff with workflows through a dashboard displayed on a 15.6-inch touchscreen mounted to the robot. An Intel depth sensor enables ChefUI to identify food and temperatures while learning to reclassify new foods introduced to ROAR.

ROAR costs around $30,000, but Miso plans to continue to price it down over the next year to $20,000 or less through a $1,000 monthly “robot-as-a-service” fee that includes regular updates and maintenance. ROAR can be purchased on a payment plan through TimePayments, and in the future, Miso says it will offer other financing options involving a lower upfront deployment fee and correspondingly higher software-as-a-service fee.

As declines in business resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic place strains on the hospitality segment, Miso believes that robots working alongside human workers can cut costs while improving efficiency — and overall safety. The company asserts its restaurant partners’ pilots to test ROAR create avenues for reducing human contact with food during the cooking process, ensuring consistency while freeing up human cooks to focus on less repetitive tasks.

Miso Robotics Flippy ROAR

Miso has long claimed that ROAR and its predecessor, Flippy, can boost productivity by working with humans as opposed to replacing them. ROAR can be installed under a standard kitchen hood or on the floor, allowing it to work two stations and interact with a cold storage hopper. It benefits from enhancements to ChefUI that expand the number of cookable food categories to chicken tenders, chicken wings, tater tots, french fries and waffle fries, cheese sticks, potato wedges, corn

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A Contractor’s Guide To Trump’s Diversity Training Order

Law360 (October 2, 2020, 5:42 PM EDT) — Federal contractors have long provided various types of anti-harassment, nondiscrimination and diversity and inclusion, or D&I, training to their employees. After the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed, D&I training has proliferated in workplaces across the country, including within federal agencies and in the contractor community.

In response to the widespread public protests for racial equality, many companies and executives issued public statements denouncing racism. Many also pledged millions of dollars to social justice organizations. In numerous workplaces, employees have taken the initiative to organize book clubs and discussion circles focused specifically on promoting open workplace discussions…

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Trump issues order banning certain types of race training from federal contractors, grant recipients

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday evening that banned certain race and sex-based training from federal contractors, as well as the military and federal agencies — a follow-up move to a previous memo to end “critical race theory” and “white privilege” training for executive employees that the Trump administration has called “anti-American propaganda.”

A memo earlier this month from Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought on the same issue applied just to “executive branch agencies.” The Tuesday order said that “Executive departments and agencies… our Uniformed Services, Federal contractors, and Federal grant recipients” are required to avoid such trainings that “are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual.”

The order adds: “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”

TRUMP ENDS ‘CRITICAL RACE THEORY’ TRAINING FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, CALLS IT A ‘SICKNESS’

Trump announced the order in a pair of tweets.

“A few weeks ago, I BANNED efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies,” Trump said. “Today, I’ve expanded that ban to people and companies that do business … with our Country, the United States Military, Government Contractors, and Grantees. Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!”

As examples of things that would be against the new rules, the executive order lists a training from Argonne National Laboratories that

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New Trump order seeks to ban US service members, federal contractors from diversity training

President Trump this week signed an executive order to expand a ban on racial sensitivity and diversity training to the U.S. military, government contractors and federal grantees. 

The order signed by the president Tuesday comes after his administration ordered federal agencies to halt diversity training programs. The order signed by Trump in early September directed federal government agencies to cancel or divert funds away from any contracts for training sessions that included white privilege or critical race theory. 


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“A few weeks ago, I BANNED efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. 

“Today, I’ve expanded that ban to people and companies that do business with our Country, the United States Military, Government Contractors, and Grantees. Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!” he said. 

The order now requires contracts to include a provision that says contractors with the federal government will not have “workplace training that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating.”

“Instructors and materials teaching that men and members of certain races, as well as our most venerable institutions, are inherently sexist and racist are appearing in workplace diversity trainings across the country, even in components of the Federal Government and among Federal contractors,” the executive order says. 

The order bans the teaching of concepts such as one race or sex is superior, that the U.S. is fundamentally racist or sexist, that an individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive whether consciously or unconsciously among others. 

Meanwhile, Trump last week said he

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