Don't say we didn't warn you, carbon-based worker. According to a relatively recent report highlighted today by Christie Nicholson at SmartPlanet, in two years companies are projected to employ ("employ") 1.2 million robotic workers globally. That's one industrial robot for every 5,000 people. There are already at least 34 per 1,000 people in robo-happy Japan. The longer-term outlook here in America is still full of robots: by 2025 robots will have taken half of all jobs in the U.S., according to these predictions.
All this may seem like grim news for the Great American Worker, but Stanford University's Ryan Calo says otherwise: "That doesn't mean they're going to replace people, which is a common fear.," he recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Ultimately, American productivity is likely to go up." SmartPlanet cites the proliferation open source robotic software and the continually decreasing cost of computer hardware as drives behind the rise of our robot overlords. Even so, the study in question from World Robotics may be projecting the robot totals low. Just this month we reported that a single company, Foxconn--maker of the iPhone and iPad--aims to have 1 million robot workers in its factories by 2014. (In World Robotics' defense, Foxconn may be over-optimistic about its own growth.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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