Robots threaten the human workforce, but their ubiquity and growing competence make them crucial to the modern economy. In 1961 General Motors installed the first Unimate at one of its plants. It was a one-armed robot resembling a small tank that was used for tasks like welding. Now, as Tim Harford explains, the world’s robot population is expanding rapidly (the robot “birth rate” is almost doubling every five years) and, coupled with rapid advances in artificial intelligence, robots are changing the world of work in unexpected ways.

(Photo: Robot, Credit: Toru Yamanaka/Getty Images)

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9 minutes

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Tue 7 Mar 2017 23:50 GMT
BBC World Service Americas and the Caribbean