Stanford Digital Economy Lab Digital Fellow Matt Beane joined us on Monday, February 8, 2021, for our first Seminar of the new year. In “Adapting to AI-Enabled Automation,” Beane discussed recent research on how frontline workers are constructively adapting to new forms of automation.
Nearly 80 years of automation research has shown that as new automating technologies arrive, frontline workers performing tasks with very low skill requirements tend to lose access to key resources such as wages, jobs and skills, as well as opportunities to acquire these resources in the future.
During the last two years, Beane and researchers have studied the introduction of AI-enabled robotics into repetitive manual work in warehouses across the United States. The sample includes 142 days of direct observation during 51 site visits, over 300 interviews, and weekly worker phone surveys, derived from the ethnographic study of eight robotics vendors.
Beane discussed his team’s findings and talk about the implications for automation and organization design, implementation practices, and the development of frontline workers.