On Robot Overlords

Extract from a recent New Yorker story, “Welcoming our new robot overlords”

We stood behind a young woman wearing a polo shirt and Lycra shorts, with a long blond ponytail. When a step was completed, a light turned on above the next required part, accompanied by a beep-beep-whoosh sound. A scanner overhead tracked everything as it was happening, beaming the data it collected to unseen engineers with iPads. Employees who follow a strict automated protocol—some call them “meat robots”—need little training. Even the drill was attached to a computer-assisted arm; the worker just had to move it to the right position and let the machine do its magic. A decade ago, industrial robots assisted workers in their tasks. Now workers—those who remain—assist the robots in theirs.