Robots in the the Workplace

When people think about robots in the workplace, they sometimes think about robots taking away jobs from humans, for example, packaging items that humans used to do by hand. But they’re also better off doing things humans probably shouldn’t be doing, like running for miles in a warehouse fetching items for shipment.

And as Kevin Kelly says in the current issue of Wired, the best jobs for robots are the jobs that humans wouldn’t ever be able to do:

While the displacement of formerly human jobs gets all the headlines, the greatest benefits bestowed by robots and automation come from their occupation of jobs we are unable to do. We don’t have the attention span to inspect every square millimeter of every CAT scan looking for cancer cells. We don’t have the millisecond reflexes needed to inflate molten glass into the shape of a bottle. We don’t have an infallible memory to keep track of every pitch in Major League Baseball and calculate the probability of the next pitch in real time.

We aren’t giving “good jobs” to robots. Most of the time we are giving them jobs we could never do. Without them, these jobs would remain undone.

Of course, when I think of robots in the future, I also think of Ripley putting on the powerloader exoskeleton.