WEB & TECH / AUG. 28, 2014
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Human Workers are Happier with Robot Overlords

How would you feel if your supervisor at work was a robot bossing you around with daily tasks? Could you even imagine a robotic machine ditching out job assignments to you?

Quite strange I must say, but you may just agree with this more than you think.

A new study by a lab research team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reveals that most manufacturing labourers rather have their tasks assigned by robots than human bosses.

According to the institute’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), one of the benefits of having a robot in the workforce is that it can assign tasks and solve issues automatically. 

Unlike human workers, robots are more organized in completing complicated jobs like rescheduling tasks if a new part arrives or if something malfunctions in the workplace.   

MIT News reported the specifics of the research study:

“…Groups of two humans and one robot worked together in one of three conditions: manual (all tasks allocated by a human); fully autonomous (all tasks allocated by the robot); and semi-autonomous (one human allocates tasks to self, and a robot allocates tasks to other human).”

It was determined that most workers preferred the fully autonomous method—giving full responsibility and management to a robot for a much more efficient business structure.

Additionally, workers have said that robots tend to learn and comprehend the details of the job a lot better than humans. 

"We discovered that the answer is to actually give machines more autonomy, if it helps people to work together more fluently with robot teammates," says Matthew Gombolay, a Ph.D. student at CSAIL. 

Gombolay works alongside assistant professor Julie Shah and MIT undergraduates Reymundo Gutierrez and Giancarlo Sturla, who are all part of the Interactive Robotics Group at the lab.

As the project lead, Gombolay says it’s imperative that his team finds common ground between the two where it would make “…the human workforce…both satisfied and productive” in a factory setting.

Gombolay reassures that a human-generated algorithm will schedule and assign tasks to workers, and therefore, workplace robots will not be completely in charge of everything. 

However, there are still some concerns in the workforce—especially when it comes to blue-collar jobs. 

Workers who are in disagreement with the android invasion admit that they fear the thought of being replaced, demoted, or devalued by artificial intelligence.

There is already a major shift in how tasks are being completed within the manufacturing, logistics, mass transit, and health care fields, reports Crain’s Detroit Business.

“The huge increases in technology always cause concern that people will be out of work,” said Stephen Spurr, economist and interim chair of the economics department at Wayne State University in Michigan. “But we’ll never get to the point where our wants will taper. Our wants increase exponentially with our output. People will have jobs, just different jobs."

There is no doubt that jobs are becoming more automated, but with tolerance and understanding, humans and robots may someday become successful working partners.  

 

Sourced Image: Phys Org

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