Amazon and MIT are partnering to study how robots affect jobs


Amazon and MIT are partnering to study how robots affect jobs -Gudstory

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Mention automation and someone will inevitably (and understandably) mention its impact on jobs. Of course, there are a lot of opposing views on this topic, but one thing everyone seems to agree on is that robotics and AI will have a profound impact on human jobs in the future.

At today’s Delivering the Future event at a fulfillment center south of Seattle, the company announced it will be teaming up with MIT and the research firm IPOS to determine how these systems will impact work.

This topic is clearly important to Amazon. The retail giant is not only a huge employer, but it has been deploying robotics in its fulfillment centers for over a decade. Their direct impact on human workers has been a subject of debate ever since. Amazon, naturally, argues that machines have the effect of removing the burden of manual labor from human employees.

On the other hand, critics have suggested that robots make human tasks more robotic – a potential issue for highly repetitive work. There is also a big question of the number of jobs. Proponents of automation suggest that the technology will create more and better jobs. The opposing view believes that many existing blue-collar-jobs will be displaced, and that training humans to work with robots is easier said than done.

Image Credit: brian heater

It seems the study is less concerned about actual job numbers, and more concerned about human workers and the public. feel About the inevitable growth of robotics and AI in warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and other industrial settings.

However, Ty Brady, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, addressed the question of job numbers ahead of today’s event, saying:

We have more than 750,000 mobile robots in operation and thousands of other robotic systems that help move, sort, identify and package customer orders. It has taken us more than 10 years to reach this scale. During that time, Amazon has hired hundreds of thousands of employees to work across our operations. We take a purpose-driven approach to how we design and deploy technology in our facilities and we continually prioritize the use of robots to support safety and make everyday tasks easier for our employees .

This study will apply to key aspects of robotic development, including the discipline of human-robot interaction (HRI), a field that does exactly what it says on the tin.

“The key to effective teamwork is building a shared understanding of what our partners will do and what they need to succeed,” says MIT’s Julie Shah. Our research suggests that the best way to optimize human-robot team performance is to evolve the robot itself. Who are active partners in helping humans learn about their capabilities, limitations, and behaviors.


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