Robots, Tech, and Keeping it Old School

Jul 2, 2018

A new survey suggests that many Americans think that robots are coming to take our jobs. The Brookings Institution asked 2000 Internet users whether they thought robots would be able to take over most human activities within 30 years, and over half said they thought it was somewhat or very likely. 

Darrell West is director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. He's also the author of The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation, and he oversaw the new survey. 

He said he's not terribly surprised that half of Americans believe that robots may take over most human jobs because we're seeing an increased use of robotics in a variety of areas already.

"Robots are being used in food preparation and restaurants are starting to automate various procedures. There's a lot of use of robots in warehouses and in factories. In fact, in China there are some factories that are fully staffed by robots," West said.

In the survey, respondents noted that the concern is not just regarding widespread use of robots. It's about robots at home, and at work. 

"On the one hand they are worried about robots and what it's going to mean for jobs. How is it going to affect human life? Are humans still going to be in charge of things decades down the road? But on the other hand, they also appreciate robots because they know that for a long time automation has made our lives easier," West said.

In other words, robots have taken over the routine, mundane, and the physical, and that frees up humans to do more interesting and creative activities. West believes that people are worried, but at the same time they're optimistic that robots will make their lives easier. 

Robots will certainly be a part of our future, but in one publication, the focus will be on the past. The MIT Technology Review now has a distinctly old school experience. The magazine is responding to the 21st century media landscape by revamping its print edition in the likeness of a distinctly 15th century invention.

MIT has been publishing the review since 1899, but they've been publishing online for the last 15 years. With this redesign, they're making sure that the print experience is appropriate to the way people read in print in 2018.

"So it is different from how people once took in journalistic content which is to say that when people are reading a print magazine today they're expecting that they're in kind of an immersive, lean-back kind of a frame of mind, said Elizabeth Bramson Boudreaux, CEO and publisher of the review

So they're using a font that's easier to read, and paper quality that's a little thicker, and feels a little nicer in your hands. But also, the articles will all come together around a single theme, much like a little book.   

The theme of the latest re-designed issue is How Technology is Impacting the Economy. There's a first-person-narrative of someone who took on a job that had her designing a way of eliminating jobs. 

There's another article about how the robot uprising finally begins. And they also have a new feature which is a single piece of science fiction. It's an opportunity for the reader to go on a journey with the publication.