Researchers at Siemens designed a factory that demonstrates how humans and robots could one day work in harmony, by programming robots and making assignments to the humans working with them, according to Fast Company.
The factory is run on a program called Click2Make that uses artificial intelligence to figure out the steps needed to make a product, then divides the assignments among machines and humans according to their capabilities.
The Siemens team proved the technology can work on a small scale with a test system that uses just a few robots to make five types of furniture with enough possible configurations to make 360 potential products, according to the report.
Though there has been a lot of hype around the potential of robots to take over human jobs, a recent McKinsey study found less than 5% of careers would be completely eliminated. More likely, humans and robots would work together to accomplish various tasks. The Siemens test case is one of the first to show how that might actually work.
Though it is often approached with fear, McKinsey also estimates automation could result in a savings of about $16 trillion in wages and make employees more productive.
Though the Siemens demo was limited to a factory floor, it’s possible the same types of tools may one day be used to accomplish more cognitive, white-collar tasks. In those cases, where and how such systems are deployed could eventually become the responsibility of the CIO or CTO.