why can’t we be friends?

in rethinking robotics by Jim Lawton

A recent Pew survey about the likelihood that robots will be taking jobs from many a human has me asking: “Will there ever be a time when we are not whipped into a frenzy of fear about the changes that technology will wreak upon life as we know it?”

Robotic Workforce

Can you imagine what rejoicing there was when the wheel was invented? I’m certain though that around the cave fire there were complaints and rants about how lazy everyone would become when they didn’t have to haul the mastodon home on their backs. And so, here we are again, in the middle of yet another debate about technology—in this case, robots—and humans.

The simple fact that technology makes human life better has been proven over and over and over again.

It’s time to shift the focus from the threat that robots are to human jobs (and not just blue collar jobs –we’re talking about traditional white collar jobs like lawyers, doctors, journalists and more).

Let’s spend time, energy and resources on what we need to embrace this new workforce, no matter where it works. Questions that come to mind include:

  • What will we humans be doing while the robots do the rest?
  • What should we be doing now to shore up education and training programs so that humans and robots can work together?
  • What changes should we be thinking about in terms of our infrastructure?

Exploring answers to these questions now will make us more ready to take advantage of the new paradigm.  I don’t have the answers  but believe me, I’d much rather be spending my time on those challenges than answering yet again the question, “Will robots replace humans in the workforce?”

Wouldn’t you?




About the Author

Jim Lawton

Jim had a choice upon graduating from Tufts University – chase a dream as a concert pianist or become part of the inaugural Leaders for Manufacturing Program at MIT. He chose the latter– dedicating his career to developing and delivering innovative solutions that improve the business of manufacturing. Internally at HP, and then at breakthrough start-ups in e-commerce, inventory optimization and supply chain risk management, Jim’s never once looked back. His charter today: capture the power of data and analytics to push the standard for world-class manufacturing higher—once again.

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