I was musing about robots recently – as one does … and started thinking about the sociology of such devices. Humans in a work situation can be excellent performers as individuals but the real performance gains come when humans are organised into cooperative and collaborative teams.

Will the same be true for robots?

The answer to this has  little to do with the possible  effects on business.  This is a question for wider society – and for policy makers.

Are robot designers and manufacturers building ‘social skills’. Into their robots. Modern AI and machine learning approaches should make this possible. If robots could organise themselves into cooperative and collaborative groups, we may be astonished at the productivity gains we see.

AI is quite a controversial area with many observers and commentators nervous about the potential threats in the future from sentient, intelligent (though artificial) beings.

With the potential for cooperative abilities built in, we might see highly efficient autonomous workgroups … but sometime in the future could we see robot ‘trades unions’ and even robot armies.