Automation is reaching more companies, imperiling some jobs and changing the nature of others. Last year, to meet rising demand amid a shortage of workers, the company Polar hired its first robot employee. The robot arm performs a simple, repetitive job: lifting a piece of metal into a press, which then bends the metal into a new shape. And like a person, the robot worker gets paid for the hours it works.
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Why is this important?
This hired robot costs the equivalent of $8 per hour, compared with a minimum wage of $15 per hour for a human employee. Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different and more human work, increasing the total output. Smaller companies sometimes suffer because they can't spend the capital to invest in new technology. The fact that companies don't need to pay $100,000 upfront to buy the robot, and then spend more money to get it programmed, is crucial in the adaption of robot workers.
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