Amazon Partners With MIT To Study The Impact Of Robots On Jobs


In a significant collaboration, Amazon and MIT have joined forces to conduct a comprehensive study on how robots and automation will affect the job market. The partnership aims to explore the implications of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) on human jobs, particularly in the areas of warehousing, manufacturing, and other industrial settings.

Key Takeaway

Amazon and MIT are embarking on a joint study to examine the impact of robotics and AI on jobs. The partnership seeks to understand the perceptions of human employees and the public regarding the increasing presence of robots in industrial settings. While the study is not aimed at estimating job numbers, it acknowledges the significance of addressing concerns surrounding human-robot interaction. Through active collaboration, robots can assist humans in learning about their capabilities, thus optimizing team performance.

Examining the Human-Robot Interaction

The study conducted by Amazon, MIT, and Ipos research firm is not solely focused on estimating job numbers. Instead, it aims to understand how human employees and the general public perceive the increasing presence of robots and AI in the workplace. This research holds particular relevance for Amazon, as it has been utilizing robotics in its fulfillment centers for over a decade.

One of the primary questions surrounding the implementation of robots in the workforce is their impact on job roles. Amazon argues that robots alleviate the physical labor burdens on human employees. Critics, however, raise concerns about jobs becoming more automated and the potential displacement of blue-collar workers. They argue that upskilling employees to work alongside robots may not be a simple task.

Addressing Job Numbers

In response to the ongoing debate, Tye Brady, Chief Technologist of Amazon Robotics, acknowledged the importance of job numbers. He highlighted that Amazon currently has over 750,000 mobile robots and thousands of other robotic systems in operation. Despite the increasing automation, the company has hired hundreds of thousands of employees over the years. Amazon’s approach prioritizes using robots to enhance safety and streamline everyday tasks for its workforce.

Optimizing Human-Robot Teamwork

To ensure effective teamwork between humans and robots, the study will focus on the field of human-robot interaction (HRI). MIT’s Julie Shah emphasizes the importance of building a shared understanding between human workers and their robotic counterparts. Active collaboration, wherein robots assist humans in comprehending their capabilities, limitations, and behaviors, is found to optimize team performance.

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