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On the 100th Anniversary of 'Robot,' They're Finally Taking Over

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Actors portrayed automatons in "RUR" 100 years ago.

The reality of robots is, in some areas, running ahead of fiction.

Credit: Zuma Press

Robot technology in many ways has surpassed the vision presented in Karel Capek's play "R.U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots"), which introduced the word "robot" a century ago.

Robots' rapid evolution is reflected in their growing presence in stores, streets, and elsewhere; the nonprofit International Federation of Robotics said in 2019 373,000 industrial robots were sold and put into use, bringing the total number employed worldwide to 2.7 million.

Meanwhile, 173,000 professional service robots were sold and installed in 2019, a number expected to climb to 537,000 units annually by 2023.

The Brookings Institution's Mark Muro anticipates an acceleration in automation's disruption of American workers, especially in the service industry—with economic recession a key driver of this trend.

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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