Consider the human side of robots

Wall-e

With all the talk about how robots will take everyone’s jobs and basically bring on the Apocalypse, it’s not hard to get worried.

The robots haven’t just landed in the workplace – they’re expanding skills, moving up the corporate ladder, showing awesome productivity and retention rates, and increasingly shoving aside their human counterparts. One multi-tasker bot, from Momentum Machines, can make (and flip) a gourmet hamburger in 10 seconds and could soon replace an entire McDonalds crew. A manufacturing device from Universal Robots doesn’t just solder, paint, screw, glue, and grasp—it builds new parts for itself on the fly when they wear out or bust. And just this week, Google won a patent to start building worker robots with personalities.

But hold on a minute. Let’s add some perspective here and practise some of that empathy we hear human beings are good at.

Let’s consider what worries robots.

Carrie Fisher runs a weekly therapy group for confused robots; let’s listen in on her most recent session…

(Okay, reality: the video is one in a series of IBM video ads that highlights what IBM Watson can do. I work for IBM but have nothing to do with Watson aside from a strong and very keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, what it all means to people and organizations generally, and to business communicators in particular. The ads are imaginative: check out more in the series.)

Image at top via Disney Pictures.


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