A new C is coming to the C-suite: The Chief Robotics Officer, or CRO. Do I hear laughter or detect an eye roll? Think again.
The bots are coming. Business leaders, social observers and researchers are voicing concern that robots, powered by advances in artificial intelligence, are coming not just to help, but in many instances to replace human workers. Advanced technology in the workplace is not new. The computer continues to revolutionize work. However, unlike the computer, robots will be more than a tool—they will be a new personality in the workplace.
Some robots are being designed to have a human likeness, perhaps to make them more like an odd but dependable colleague who sits down the hall and is always willing to help you out of a jam. Some bots, following the design of the social bot Pepper, may tell a joke as they roll by the water cooler.
Even gray-suited professionals in lofty high rises will be working alongside, or competing with, artificial intelligence. IBM’s Watson could be seen as more than a mere source of information, but as a member of a patient’s care team alongside a primary care physician, a nurse, a specialist, and a surgeon. A robo advisor may be at the table when a human financial advisor proposes a retirement plan to a client. An attorney may be required to check with her robotic colleague before submitting a brief if she wants to be fully covered by her malpractice insurance.
Human workers have supervisors to direct them and human resources to recruit, navigate and, at times, advocate for them. Who will manage and advocate for the robots? Who will adjudicate conflicts between robotic and human colleagues? Enter the new C-suite executive— the Chief Robotics Officer or CRO.
Chief Robotics Officer positions are already being created. Observers suggest that the CRO is what the Chief Information Officer was to business when ushering in computers in the 1980s. Seminars about the need…
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