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Now displaying: January, 2021
Jan 22, 2021

There is no shortage of predictions about how advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics will possibly see humans replaced in all kinds of jobs. Technological advances in artificial intelligence have certainly made it possible to use robotics and automate many jobs that previously could only be done by a human. Despite fears or questions about robots taking over, human brainpower will still be necessary. Realistically, instead of destroying entire jobs and creating completely new robot-led occupations AI and automation will most likely more change what activities people focus on in their work and perhaps share with AI-driven robots.

According to McKinsey, given currently demonstrated technologies, very few occupations—less than 5 percent—are candidates for full automation. However, almost every occupation has partial automation potential, and a proportion of its activities could be automated. McKinsey estimates that about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s workforce could potentially be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies. That amounts to almost $15 trillion in wages.

Depending on the job and the area of application, humans and robots can work together with varying degrees of collaboration. Industry calls this “human-robot collaboration.” This collaboration is defined as:

Coexistence: Humans and robots work in adjacent workspaces without safety fencing. They do not, however, share a common workspace and work independently of one another on different tasks.

Cooperation: In human-robot cooperation, humans and robots work in the same workspace. They work alternately on different tasks within a process. There is no direct interaction.

Collaboration: Humans and robots interact in a shared workspace. For example, the robot passes something to the human operator, or they simultaneously perform different tasks on the same work.

Today’s guests Laura Major and Julie Shah have dedicated their careers to this idea of advanced human-robot interaction.

Laura Major is CTO of Motional (previously Hyundai-Aptiv Autonomous Driving Joint Venture), where she leads the development of autonomous vehicles. Previously, she led the development of autonomous aerial vehicles at CyPhy Works and a division at Draper Laboratory. Major has been recognized as a national Society of Women Engineers Emerging Leader. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Julie Shah is a roboticist at MIT and an associate dean of social and ethical responsibilities of computing. She directs the Interactive Robotics Group in the Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT. She was a Radcliffe fellow, has received an National Science Foundation Career Award, and has been named one of MIT Technology Review's "Innovators Under 35." She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

They have co-authored the book WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING ROBOTS, introducing us to the revolutionary idea of human-robot collaboration. They believe that next generation of robots won’t be limited to specific tasks like your Roomba and Alexa are right now. They will be able to drive on roads, deliver goods, stock shelves, and coordinate teams of nurses and doctors. These advanced machines will work with us, not just for us.

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