With technology stalwarts from Elon Musk to Bill Gates warning of the potential threat presented by artificial intelligence, one would be forgiven for taking a dim view of what A.I. offers humanity in the long run.
Yet for those worried about losing their jobs (or worse), the emergence of a more collaborative approach to A.I. should offer some comfort.
The rise of so-called 'cobots', which emphasize human-robot interaction in solving tasks, have not only proven more accommodating of their flesh-and-blood counterparts, they have also proven to be a better solution. For example, a study involving BMW found that using robot-human teams in manufacturing was 85% more productive than using either on a standalone basis.
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Lending hand: mechanical engineer Jesse Rochelle works with Baxter at the Stenner Pumps factory in Jacksonville, Florida. Walking across the floor of SEW-Eurodrive’s factory in Baden-Württemberg is like moving through a time warp. On one side, the light is dim and workers stand at long assembly lines repeating the same task over and over. On the other, a fleet of low-lying robotic trucks scoot around the shop floor, restocking restyled workstations. In these small cells, a single employee helped by a robotic workbench assembles a virtually complete drive system that will be used to power the production of everything from cars to cola. Elsewhere, a robotic arm called Carmen helps workers load machines or pick components out of bins. Here, the light is brighter, and the workers say they are happier. “Everything is just where I need it.