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The robots of the cartoons and movies from the 1970s will be the reality of the 2020s. None of us know what the lasting effects of COVID will be, but there is one area where we can draw some conclusions:
This pandemic has massively accelerated investment and developments in artificial intelligence and this will have far-reaching implications on the American workforce.
I saw this firsthand when I visited a factory where a company was packaging pharmaceuticals. Because of a surge in COVID infections, the factory closed to workers for a period of weeks at a time during the winter when its medicines were most needed. Remarkably, the factory kept on working without human beings on the factory floor.
Artificial intelligence-enabled robots using laser 3-D printers continued to produce, store and manage the packaging process. Humans working from home could observe the factory floor by video and remote control the robots whenever they needed to get involved, which was not often. People were able to direct another set of robots to pick up the packages, label them and move them to the dock for delivery without