How Medical Robots Will Help Treat Patients in Future Outbreaks

Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers form the front line in the fight against pandemics. Not only are they needed to treat sick patients, but they also put themselves at high risk of contracting the disease themselves. In the COVID-19 outbreak, thousands of doctors and nurses have fallen ill, and hundreds have died. These risks become even more hazardous when shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) leave healthcare workers no alternative but to reuse or improvise PPE.  The interest in using robotics to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak has been huge, and for good reason: Having more robots implies less person-to-person contact, which means fewer healthcare workers get sick. This also reduces community transmission, while consuming fewer supplies of PPE. At the same time, the use of telemedicine to allow doctors and nurses to communicate with patients without the risk of infection is rising sharply. And although robots have so far Continue reading How Medical Robots Will Help Treat Patients in Future Outbreaks

How many jobs do robots really replace?

This is part 1 of a three-part series examining the effects of robots and automation on employment, based on new research from economist and Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu.   In many parts of the U.S., robots have been replacing workers over the last few decades. But to what extent, really? Some technologists have forecast that automation will lead to a future without work, while other observers have been more skeptical about such scenarios. Now a study co-authored by an MIT professor puts firm numbers on the trend, finding a very real impact — although one that falls well short of a robot takeover. The study also finds that in the U.S., the impact of robots varies widely by industry and region, and may play a notable role in exacerbating income inequality. “We find fairly major negative employment effects,” MIT economist Daron Acemoglu says, although he notes that the impact of Continue reading How many jobs do robots really replace?