Will robots create new jobs when they take over existing ones?

April 19, 2013

Baxter (credit: Rethink Robotics)

At a robotics industry event organized by business blog Xconomy in Menlo Park last week, people working on better industrial robots claimed their robotics technology will actually boost the U.S. economy and create more jobs, even if some jobs do disappear forever, MIT Technology Review reports.

“We’re replacing jobs that people don’t want to do and really shouldn’t be doing,” said Aldo Zini, whose company Aethon makes wheeled robots that ferry medicines, food trays, and garbage around hospital corridors so people don’t have to.

Human workers who do those jobs often develop repetitive-stress or back injuries and frequently quit, said Zini. In some cases, better robots will simply be tools for existing workers, not replacements, added Aaron Edsinger, CTO of Redwood Robotics, a company working on making robotic arms cheaper. “We think of it as industrial augmentation to make workers more efficient,” he said. “I think we’ll find new jobs that come from that.”