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Robot holding a computer

Would you work for a robot?



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It is impossible to imagine a corporate world without the technological advancements we have today, but would you draw the line at taking orders from a robot?

That was exactly what researchers at MIT aimed to find out when it grouped human workers with robot bosses for a study.

For the research, Lego pieces had to be fetched from one station and brought to another to be assembled. Either a human or robot could fetch the pieces but only a human could assemble it.

“The goal of the experiment was to understand the relationship between efficiency and worker satisfaction, as a function of how much control the worker has over his or her own role on the team,” the researchers said in the report.

As expected by the researchers, work was more efficient when the robots were in charge. But what they didn’t expect was higher satisfaction levels of employees when the robots were given either semi or full autonomy over the work.

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While the results were mostly positive, researchers warned of the it is important to know how much autonomy workers should still be given.

“While autonomy can improve team efficiency, providing a worker too little or too much control may be alienating or overwhelming, respectively,” the report said.

Ultimately, the results showed an autonomous robot can outperform a human worker when conducting part or all of the task.

“However, rather than finding an ideal balance of control authority to maximise worker satisfaction, we observed that workers preferred to give control authority to the robot,” the report said.

“Our results suggest that providing workers with a role in the allocation of tasks to their robotic counterparts may not be an effective method of improving worker satisfaction. Rather, team fluency may more strongly influence worker satisfaction than level of decision-making authority.”

Watch more about the experiment here:

Image: Shutterstock

 

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