Robots add real value when working with humans, not replacing them — Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

From TechCrunch

In the popular media, we talk a lot about robots stealing jobs. But when we stop speculating and actually look at the real world of work, the impact of advanced robotics is far more nuanced and complicated. Issues of jobs and income inequality fade away, for example — there aren’t remotely enough robots to affect more than a handful of us in the practical sense.

Yet robots usually spell massive changes in the way that skilled work gets done: The work required to fly an F-16 in a combat zone is radically different from the work required to fly a Reaper, a semi-autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle, in that same zone.

Because they change the work so radically, robot-linked upheavals like this create a challenge: How do you train the next generation of professionals who will be working with robots

My research into the increasing use of robotics in surgery offers a partial answer. But it has also uncovered trends that — if they continue — could have a major impact on surgical training and, as a result, the quality of future surgeries.

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The jobs that AI can’t replace — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

MIT Sloan’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

From BBC

Current advances in robots and other digital technologies are stirring up anxiety among workers and in the media. There is a great deal of fear, for example, that robots will not only destroy existing jobs, but also be better at most or all of the tasks required in the future.

Our research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has shown that that’s at best a half-truth. While it is true that robots are getting very good at a whole bunch of jobs and tasks, there are still many categories in which humans perform better.

And, perhaps more importantly, robots and other forms of automation can aid in the creation of new and better jobs for humans. As a result, while we do expect that some jobs will disappear, other jobs will be created and some existing jobs will become more valuable.

For example, machines are currently dominating the jobs in routine information processing. “Computer,” after all, used to be an actual job title of a person who sat and added long rows of numbers. Now it is, well, an actual computer.

On the other hand, jobs such as data scientist didn’t used to exist, but because computers have made enormous data sets analyzable, we now have new jobs for people to interpret these huge pools of information. In the tumult of our economy, even as old tasks get automated away, along with demand for their corresponding skills, the economy continues to create new jobs and industries.

Read the full post at the BBC.

The authors also appeared on the BBC’s “Panorama” for a segment titled “Could A Robot Do My Job.”  See the program here.

Erik Brynjolfsson is the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science, a Professor of Information Technology, and the Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

Andrew McAfee is the Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business.