How “Cobots” Are Transforming Jobs in Every Industry, from Fast Food to Law


The system is not only faster than its human counterparts, but more accurate too. Going head to head with Tunji Williams, a lawyer from the University of Virginia Law School, the machine achieved a 95% accuracy rate on the two NDAs it reviewed. The lawyer scored 83% and 85% for the same NDAs, missed one critical mistake, and took more than twice the time. Surprisingly, though, he wasn’t worried about what this could mean for his job. 

“I wasn’t disappointed when the iPhone came out,” Tunji says. “I can do more things with this new piece of technology, so this is exciting to me.”

Noory acknowledges that the Lawgeex system couldn’t pass the bar exam (at least, not yet), so if your company employs lawyers, don’t expect to stop needing them altogether. They’ll just be focusing on more interesting, complex tasks while leaving the rote work to the machines. 

“You have a new generation of lawyers who are much more tech-savvy,” Noory says. “The ones that can actually leverage technology are the ones that manage to prosper.”

To make cobotics truly collaborative and beneficial to employees, companies need to focus on making work meaningful and reskilling accessible

Cobotics is not without its drawbacks. For one thing, while automation tends to actually create more jobs than it wipes out and increase salaries overall, many displaced workers will need to undergo retraining to find a new role. And for many, realistic opportunities to retrain are few and far between.

“Depending on your personal circumstances, [retraining] could be very hard,” says Landon Cofer, a team member working on assembly and conveyance at Toyota. “If you work a full shift and you have a family, you may only have an hour or two of free time a day. Are you supposed to go drive to the training facility and spend a few hours a day there before you go work your shift? I don’t think very many people would do that.”

When employees are forced to do more work just to keep up, it’s easy to become demoralized and disengaged. That’s why it’s vital that companies help their employees transition into new roles seamlessly by providing on-the-job learning opportunities. By making retraining part of employees’ regular work, rather than something they do unpaid in their own time, companies can ensure they have the necessary skills under their roof for the future — and win the loyalty of their workforces. 

Another key consideration is how to make work feel meaningful and, well, human. Focusing too much on the efficiency gains brought about by robotics can leave employees feeling like one of the machines themselves. 

This is an issue that Amazon is currently facing at its robotic-enabled fulfillment centers. While the company’s technologists are excited about creating a better system in which humans and machines work together in harmony, some employees feel that their jobs are becoming more impersonal.


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