MIT’s Task Force on the Work of the Future has been providing perspectives, responding to media inquiries, and participating in virtual events to share viewpoints on the economy, government response, worker voice, and technological advancements.
Considering recent developments in artificial intelligence, how will today’s automation technologies impact manufacturing workers? To understand the likelihood of an impending robocalypse, this paper explores how small factory owners in Ohio conceptualize automation. Due to the risk of replacing entire production processes and the still-relevant capabilities of old equipment, the firms interviewed for this study primarily automated in order to complement rather than replace existing technologies. This incremental, piecemeal strategy will hinder the introduction of more integrated automation systems that may presage fully-automated manufacturing, thus ensuring the existence of manufacturing jobs for the foreseeable future.