I sincerely hope you’re not reading this just before tucking into a nourishing sushi lunch. Because Japan is reeling from a recent wave of ‘sushi terrorism’ — where attention-seeking social media ‘characters’ film themselves doing horrible things to passing sushi on conveyor belts, before sending them on their not-so-merry way.

What kind of horrible things? Think licking the green tea power spoon, or dumping a load of extremely hot wasabi onto a passing tuna roll. 

This may sound gross but (probably) harmless — like a lot of social media pranks — but the antics are having consequences. The Guardian reports that one viral clip showing a teenager licking the top of a communal soy sauce pot corresponded with shares in the Sushiro restaurant’s parent company dropping by 5%.

Rather than give up on conveyor belts — the technology that allows these egregious acts of sushi terrorism to occur — the chain Kura Sushi is instead planning to deploy yet more technology. In this case, artificial intelligence to keep an eye out for the “suspicious opening and closing of sushi plate covers”.

The chain already uses AI to accumulate data on the kind of sushi ordered and how many plates people consume, but now it intends to use it to out unhygienic goblins. My words, not theirs. 

But here’s what a company spokesperson told CNN: “This time, we want to deploy our AI-operated cameras to monitor if customers put the sushi they picked up with their hands back on the plates. We are confident we will be able to upgrade the systems we already have in place to deal with these kind of behaviours.”

There are, of course, lower-tech solutions. One restaurant is putting pictures on the passing plates instead of the actual products to prevent contamination (and maybe even give a nasty paper cut to a would-be sushi terrorist), but this is certainly a non-invasive way of keeping things close to how they are already. 

Although that does assume that customers have confidence in the AI working as planned which, given the history of some iffy AI integrations, may be a little on the optimistic side…

Image: Isabella Mendes / Pexels