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HANNOVER MESSE 2020, 20 - 24 April
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Robotics

Increasing skepticism about robots in the workplace

Although their purpose is to help make work easier for humans, a study has now shown that in Europe robots are currently evaluated significantly more negatively than five years ago. There is increasing skepticism about the machines in the workplace in particular.

08 Feb. 2019
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Increasing skepticism about robots in the workplace (Foto: WISeKey International Holding Ltd)

The data for the analysis came from three representative surveys of a total of more than 80,000 EU citizens. The scientists from the University of Linz and University of Würzburg behind the study believe that frequent reports on alleged or actual job losses due to robotic systems is one of the reasons for the growing hostility toward robots. They noted how robots for general uses are rated more positively than robots for specific applications. It would seem that the closer robots creep up on them, the more critical the workers are of them. Men and blue-collar workers tend to see robots positively, while women and office workers see them less kindly. This skepticism could have a direct impact on the economy, warn the scientists. New technologies that are not accepted do not subsequently prevail on the market. One recommendation is to make the public more aware of robots and their applications.

German business newspaper ‘Handelsblatt’ reports on a positive real-life case: The workforce at technology & capital goods group Voestalpine was “largely amenable” to the company’s conversion to digital production, because the management team adopted a cautious approach. For example, employees were given training in new tasks over the course of several years. This preemptively stopped the workforce from worrying about their jobs.

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