Software developers in San Francisco are writing programmes to grab the best tables at the best restaurants in Silicon Valley
If you want a good table at a top restaurant in Silicon Valley you had better be a good programmer.
Coders in San Francisco are using custom written programmes, or bots, to grab the good tables leaving other diners frustrated.
The bots watch restaurant websites to spot when tables become available then reserve them before humans can react.
The use of bots has made it almost impossible to get good tables at some of the most popular Valley eateries.
The growing use of bots was uncovered by programmer Diogo Monica who wrote a small programme to help him spot free tables at his favourite San Francisco restaurant State Bird Provisions (SBP).
The code emailed Mr Monica when other diners cancelled reservations or SBP released more tables. While the code helped him get a table now and then it quickly became ineffective. Close scrutiny of the SBP website revealed why.
"I found myself looking at it and noticed that as soon as reservations became available on the website (at 04:00), all the good times were immediately taken and were gone by 04:01," he wrote.
"It quickly became obvious that these were reservation bots at work," he said. This was making it all but impossible for anyone to get a table at SBP which is almost always fully booked, up to 60 days ahead.
In retaliation, Mr Monica wrote his own reservation bot and has started to regularly get a table at SBP.