The Transformation of the Workplace Through Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation

The twin forces of technology and globalization are reinventing and redefining the workplace and the way work is performed. The workplace automation of the last century is rapidly being augmented and replaced by intelligent self-learning systems driven by cloud computing, breakthroughs in sensor technology, and creation of new algorithms that harness the power of “Big Data.” Technologies are emerging that enhance human capabilities and allow workers to provide a wider range of services remotely and with greater efficiency. This new workplace is constantly changing, increasingly uninhibited by geographical boundaries and inspired by the arrival of robots and new technologies previously available only through the pages of science fiction.

These disruptive technologies will affect not only how work is accomplished, but, where, when, by whom and under what conditions. Nations that have attracted manufacturing through low cost human labor are being competitively challenged by the arrival of brilliant machines that can operate flawlessly 24 hours a day. While there is support for the position that robotics increases employment in the long run by generating jobs throughout the robotics supply chain and occasioning the rise of new industries and services and stimulating the economy, in the near-term, the exponential growth of robotics and cognitive computing may likely displace many workers. Robots are becoming more integrated into the human workplace, not only completing tasks autonomously, but also enhancing human performance and safety in the workplace and at home. As new technologies facilitate remote work, the physical and temporal bounds of the workplace are becoming more flexible. These changes are simultaneously and cumulatively transforming the conditions of work.

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Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.