Case Study: Industrial robots resources
Industrial robots are becoming ever cheaper - and increasingly they are competing with people for jobs. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) produces annual statistics about global use of robotics, which makes an interesting read.
Robots and unemployment
The New York Times' article Skilled Work, Without the Worker is a great introduction to this topic, with many examples, photos and a video. A $22,000 humanoid robot that competes with low-wage workers (MIT Technology Review) provides a good insight into how businesses can save money with robots, and the related social impacts in the Business & Employment sector - particularly on poorer workers. It's a Man vs. Machine Recovery (Business Week) and Marathon machine (Economist) both examine this impact on unskilled workers in more detail. The Guardian argues that most people are unprepared for the pace of robotic development and unaware of the potential threat to their jobs.
More Jobs Predicted for Machines, Not People (NY Times) discusses the many areas in which robots are taking human jobs; Will there be jobs left for a human being? delves deeper into these social impacts and asks whether the end of mass employment is near. Will Robots Create New Jobs When They Take Over Existing Ones? also addresses the issues of unemployment and reskilling. How to Protect Workers From Job-Stealing Robots argues that rather than causing mass unemployment, robots will actually boost the economy. Other articles argue that robotics will cause unemployment, but that this may affect women more than men due to the nature of jobs that can be automated.
Shift Change is a YouTube series of videos about how robotic technology can change, improve, and sometimes replace jobs. It examines how current technology might progress and the social impacts this will cause. The last job on Earth: imagining a fully automated world is another video in a similar vein.
Robots and safety
Safety is a concern wherever robots and humans are working alongside each other; heavy robotic arms could easily kill or seriously injure a nearby human worker. For this reason, robots and humans normally work in separate, fenced areas. However, Robots and Humans, Learning to work together (NY Times) discusses a new generation of robot with improved ability to sense its surroundings and work cooperately with humans.