Robotics and the Future of Work: Lessons from Nursing Homes in Japan

On the Future Health podcast, Karen Eggleston discusses the findings and implications of her collaborative research into the effects of robot adoption on staffing in Japanese nursing homes.

Stanford University Medical News

If we look to the future, could the current wave of digital technology herald a day when robots and automation would progressively displace humans and destroy livelihoods? An expert panel of researchers from the APARC has discovered data that contradicts apocalyptic predictions of robot job displacement in one of the first investigations of service sector robotics.

The researchers — Asia Health Policy Program Director Karen Eggleston, SK Center Fellow Yong Suk Lee, and Toshiaki Iizuka, a former visiting scholar from the University of Tokyo’s Department of Health Economics — set out to investigate how robots affect labor, productivity, and the quality of care in Japan’s nursing facilities. Their results suggest that the adoption of robots may not be harmful to the work force and may even be beneficial in addressing the problems of increasingly aging societies. For more information on the research and its consequences, Eggleston recently appeared on Future Health podcast, an initiative of the New South Wales Ministry of Health, to talk about it. The program is available as a video podcast as well as an audio podcast. According to a research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the use of robots has expanded job possibilities for non-regular care workers, has helped to reduce the high turnover rate that plagues nursing facilities, and has given employees with more flexibility. Additionally, it has been published in the AHPP’s working paper series and is a component of a larger research project by Eggleston, Lee, and Iizuka that examines the impact of robots on nursing home care in Japan, as well as the implications of robotic technologies adoption in aging societies, as well as the implications of robotic technologies adoption in aging societies.

The research has gotten a lot of attention in the media. In a feature article and podcast, the Financial Times Magazine described it as “groundbreaking in many ways, perhaps most notably for focusing its eyes not on manufacturing but on the services sector, where robots are only just starting to make their impact.” Eggleston and Lee were also guests on the Freakonomics Radio program, where they spoke about their study as part of an episode on collaborative robots and the future of employment.


Categories: Tech&Innovation