Would you like to work among robots someday?

Would you like to work among robots someday?

When you imagine yourself working in the future, what do you see? Are you thinking of working in an office, in a factory, in a restaurant, on a farm or at home? What would your workplace look like in your opinion?

Have you ever imagined that robots are part of your future business world? Does the thought of working alongside moving and thinking machines excite you, or make you uncomfortable?

in “Meet your new corporate office companion: a “brainless” robotJun Yoon and Daisuke Wakabayashi wrote about Naver, a South Korean internet company, trying to introduce bots into the corporate workplace:

The new workers moved around the office completing mundane tasks such as bringing coffee, delivering meals, and delivering packages. They did not get in anyone’s way and did not infringe on personal space. They waited for the elevators with unfailing politeness. And perhaps most temptingly, they didn’t complain.

This is because they were bots.

Naver, a South Korean internet company, has been experimenting with integrating robots into office life for several months. Inside a futuristic, starkly industrial, 36-story high-rise building on the outskirts of Seoul, a fleet of about 100 robots roam alone, zipping from floor to floor on robot-only elevators, occasionally next to humans, rolling through security gates and entering meeting rooms.

Naver’s network of web services, including search engine, maps, email, and news aggregation, is dominant in South Korea, but its reach abroad is limited, and it lacks the global reputation of a company like Google. The company was looking for new ways to grow. In October, it agreed to acquire Poshmark, an online retailer of used goods, for $1.2 billion. Now, Naver sees the software that powers robots in the company’s office spaces as a product that other companies may eventually want.

Robots have found a home in other workplaces, such as factories, retail and hospitality, but they are largely absent from the white-collar world of cubicles and conference rooms. There are thorny questions of privacy: Experts say a machine teeming with cameras and sensors roaming company corridors can be a miserable tool for corporate surveillance if misused. Designing a space where machines can move freely without disturbing employees is also a complex challenge.

But Naver has done extensive research to make sure its robots — which look like a rolling trash can — look, move and act in ways that make employees comfortable. As it develops its own bot privacy rules, it hopes to write a blueprint for office bots in the future.

The article continues:

As part of its research, Naver has also published studies in the field Human-robot interaction. After a series of experiments, for example, Naver concluded that the optimal location for a robot in a crowded elevator with humans was the corner next to the entrance on the side opposite the elevator buttons. Placing the robot at the back of the elevator made humans uncomfortable, Naver researchers have found.

The company’s engineers also designed movable eyes that stare in the direction the robot is heading. They found that employees were better able to anticipate the robot’s movement if they could see its gaze.

None of the machines look human. Mr. Kang said the company does not want to give people the false impression that robots will act like humans. (Some robotics experts believe that humanoid robots make humans more, not less, uncomfortable.)

Naver isn’t, of course, the only tech company trying to advance robot technology. rice bots It has deployed hundreds of boxy, cartoonish robots that deliver packages, groceries, and more in office buildings, malls, and stores across Asia. robots like Optimusthe prototype unveiled by Tesla in September, is Designed to be more human-likeand holds chests, water plants, and more, but still gets posted a little too far.

Students, read the full article, then tell us:

  • Does the Naver workplace sound like an exciting future or a dystopian nightmare? Would you like to work alongside robots someday? Why and why not?

  • What are your concerns about working among bots? What questions does this technology raise?

  • What could be exciting about working with robots? What can a robotic desk companion do for you?

  • Naver did not intentionally design its bots To look like humans and be “brainless”. Do you think humanoid robots will make you more or less comfortable? why?


Students who are 13 and older in the US and UK and 16 or older elsewhere are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Find more student feedback questions here. teachers, Check out this guide Learn how you can incorporate these prompts into your classroom.

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