We’ve seen a lot of stories lately about how many jobs traditionally done by humans could soon become the domain of robots. Now comes a study from MIT that says while we don’t like the idea of being replaced by robots, we may not have a lot of trouble working for one.
Researchers at the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab—CSAIL for short—found that human workers preferred it when robots were given control over manufacturing tasks.
In the study, groups of two humans and one robot worked together under one of three scenarios: all tasks allocated by a human, all tasks allocated by the robot, or one human allocates tasks to himself while the robot allocated tasks to the other. The study’s (human) subjects preferred it when all tasks were allocated by the robot. That approach was found to be the most efficient of the three, as well. (Interestingly, some workers said the robots “better understood them.”)
Project lead Matthew Gombolay said the idea behind his research was to find the “sweet spot” where people are both satisfied and productive when working with robots. Though the study found giving robots more autonomy is ideal, that doesn’t mean that they should be the boss. Instead, it shows their strength in delegating, scheduling and coordinating tasks, based on human-generated algorithms. “Instead of coming up with a plan by hand, it’s about developing tools to help create plans automatically,” Gombolay explained.
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