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Do Cobots Replace People in Manufacturing?

Articles about automation in manufacturing, particularly robotics and collaborative robots, sometimes called “cobots,” appear frequently in the press. The headline message often is focused on eliminating jobs and replacing workers.

Every time I hear someone mention that automation is replacing people, I start to fidget as I prepare for a debate. In Minnesota, we sometimes call this the “yeah-buttal.”
We seem to have long forgotten that computers with spreadsheet, word processing and presentation software have replaced slide-rules, calculators, typewriters, transparency film and so on, as well as stenographers and others who used these low-tech tools. Thankfully. Of course, we use the computers, and we are much more productive. The combination of computer software and hardware might be considered a form of automation (as well as communication, entertainment and a host of other functions), and society has accepted this.

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