Why does BusinessWeek make dire warnings for the future?

from BusinessWeek

Maybe, this could be YOU?

Into my inbox came my google Alert about another intriguing article about robots in the office. BusinessWeek, source of the CEOs Guide to Robots in the Workplace, has come up with another article on The Robot in the Next Cubicle. Sadly, the article seems to put robots out of reach of the office market, discussing very expensive systems and giving a scary warning that over half of all jobs could be handled by robots by 2030. The author quotes Marshall Brain saying that:

“Management is one area where a dispassionate robot that’s able to disperse tasks and evaluate employee performance in a perfectly rational way might do a better job than a human,” he says.

Well, at least Anybots gets a good mention in the article:

Industrial and technological companies across the globe are already hard at work trying to make this a reality. The QB, a “remote presence robot” created by Anybots, based in Mountain View, Calif., is basically a videoconferencing system on wheels. The QB, which looks a little like Wall-E, is controlled remotely through a Web browser and keyboard, allowing managers to virtually visit satellite branches from the comfort of their offices. The $15,000 QB was unveiled in May, and according to Anybots’ founder, Trevor Blackwell, sales are in the hundreds. “Everyone already has videoconferencing,” says Blackwell. “Yet planes are still full of people traveling for business. We’re trying to find a way to solve that problem.”

Unfortunately, the accompanying graphic gives it a tongue-in-cheek poke:

I thought BusinessWeek was about envisioning the future rather than belittling it.

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