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Tag: Jobs

Robotic Automations

Robots can make jobs less meaningful for human colleagues | TechCrunch

Much has been (and will continue to be) written about automation’s impact on the jobs market. In the short term, many employers have complained of an inability to fill roles and retain workers, further accelerating robotic adoption. The long-term impact these sorts of sweeping changes will have on the job market going forward remains to be seen.

One aspect of the conversation that is oft neglected, however, is how human workers feel about their robotic colleagues. There’s a lot to be said for systems that augment or remove the more backbreaking aspects of blue-collar work. But could the technology also have a negative impact on worker morale? Both things can certainly be true at once.

The Brookings Institute this week issued results gleaned from several surveys conducted over the past decade and a half to evaluate the impact that robotics have on job “meaningfulness.” The think tank defines the admittedly abstract notion thusly:

“In exploring what makes work meaningful, we rely on self-determination theory. According to this theory, satisfying three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—is key for motivating workers and enabling them to experience purpose through their work.”

Data was culled from worker surveys carried out in 14 industries across 20 countries in Europe, cross-referenced with robot deployment data issued by the International Federation of Robotics. Industries surveyed included automotive, chemical products, food and beverage and metal production, among others.

The institute reports a negative impact to worker-perceived meaningfulness and autonomy levels.

“If robot adoption in the food and beverages industry were to increase to match that of the automotive industry,” Brookings notes, “we estimate a staggering 6.8% decrease in work meaningfulness and a 7.5% decrease in autonomy.” The autonomy aspect speaks to an ongoing concern over whether the implementation of robotics in industrial settings will make the roles carried out by their human counterparts more robotic as well. Of course, the counterpoint has often been made that these systems effectively remove many of the most repetitive aspects of these roles.

The Institute goes on to suggest that these sorts of impacts are felt across roles and demographics. “We find that the negative consequences of robotization for work meaningfulness are the same, regardless of workers’ education level, skill level, or the tasks they perform,” the paper notes.

As for how to address this shift, the answer likely isn’t going to be simply saying no to automation. As long as robots have a positive impact on a corporation’s bottom line, adoption will continue at a rapidly increasing clip.

Brookings resident Milena Nikolova does offer a seemingly straightforward solution, writing, “If firms have mechanisms in place to ensure that humans and machines cooperate, rather than compete, for tasks, machines can help improve workers’ well-being.”

This is one of the defining pushes behind those automation firms touting collaborative robotics, rather than outright worker replacement. Pitting humans against their robotic counterparts will almost certainly be a losing battle.

Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Agility Robotics lays off some staff amid commercialization focus | TechCrunch

Agility Robotics on Thursday confirmed that it has laid off a “small number” of employees. The well-funded Oregon-based firm says the job loss is part of a company-wide focus on commercialization efforts.

“As part of Agility’s ongoing efforts to structure the company for success, we have parted ways with a small number of employees that were not central to core product development and commercialization,” the company wrote in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “At the same time, we are focused on meeting the extraordinary demand for bipedal robots across industrial use cases. That means ramping up production of Digit while continuing to win top-tier global customers, and adding new roles that meet these goals. We believe today’s actions will allow us to focus on the areas that drive productization, commercialization, and production of Digit.”

Agility was ahead of the industrial humanoid curve with its bipedal robot, Digit. The firm was spun out of research conducted at Oregon State University. There’s been no lack of interest in its impressive legged robots over the years. Ford was an early champion, as Agility explored Digit’s last-mile-delivery potential. Ultimately, however, those efforts were placed on the back burner, as the company shifted focus to understaffed warehouses.

There’s been no lack of funding for Agility’s efforts, despite a general slowdown in investments in and adoption of robotic systems, both of which can be seen as corrections following a massive pandemic-fueled boom.

Two years ago this month, the company announced a $150 million Series B. Amazon notably participated in the round by way of its Industrial Innovation Fund. The retail giant subsequently announced that it would pilot Digits as part of its fulfillment center workflow. The pilots have since ended, but neither company has announced next steps.

A number of other humanoid robotics firms have announced their own pilots in recent months, including Figure with BMW and Apptronik with Mercedes. Last month at Modex, Agility showcased updates to Digit’s end effectors designed specifically for automotive manufacturing workflows.

Agility has also made a number of high-profile hires over the past year, including Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson joining as chief executive, Fetch CEO Melonee Wise as CTO and former Apple and Ford executive Aindrea Campbell in as COO.

The company’s jobs page currently lists five open roles, largely focused on engineering and manufacturing.

Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

These 74 robotics companies are hiring | TechCrunch

It’s tough out there — and yet, doing my semi-regular jobs post always gives me hope. Seems every time I post one of these, the number increases. At 74 companies, this is undoubtedly the largest list we’ve made, by a wide margin. That means more work for me in putting this post together, but if it helps a few folks find some work, it was definitely worth it.

I love hearing stories from folks who got hired by clicking on a link in this post, so please drop me a note over on LinkedIn if that applies to you. As always, good luck. You got this.

1X Technologies (23 roles)
Advanced Construction Robotics (4 roles)
Aescape (5 roles)
Aethon (5 roles)
Agility Robotics (5 roles)
Allvision (2 roles)
Ambi Robotics (2 roles)
ANYbotics (25 roles)
Apptronik (16 roles)
Astrobotic (23 roles)
Atomic Machines (2 roles)
Aurora (40 careers)
Baubot (10 roles)
Bear Robotics (13 roles)
BHS Robotics (8 roles)
Bloomfield Robotics (5 roles)
Boxbot (3 roles)
Carnegie Robotics (1 role)
Cepheid (4 roles)
Chef Robotics (15 roles)
Civ Robotics (5 roles)
Collaborative Robotics (10 roles)
Covariant (20 roles)
Dexterity (42 roles)
Edge Case Research (1 role)
Ekumen (3 roles)
Enchanted Tools (50 roles)
Engineered Arts (1 role)
Exotec (174 roles)
Eye-Bot (4 roles)
Forcen (4 roles)
Formant, Inc. (4 roles)
Formic (8 roles)
Formlogic (12 roles)
Four Growers (4 roles)
Foxglove (2 roles)
Fulfil Solutions (15 roles)
Gecko Robotics (18 roles)
GrayMatter Robotics (11 roles)
Hellbender (6 roles)
Johnson & Johnson Med Tech (1 role)
Keybotic (2 roles)
Matic Robots (10 roles)
Medra (3 roles)
Mine Vision Systems (2 roles)
Near Earth Autonomy (4 roles)
Neocis (15 roles)
Neubility (1 role)
Neuraville (8 roles)
Neya Systems (9 roles)
Nimble Robotics (8 roles)
Nuro (40 roles)
Onward Robotics (2 roles) (3 roles)
Polymath Robotics (2 roles)
Pudu Robotics (2 roles)
Pyka (10 roles)
Reliable Robotics (36 roles)
Roboto AI (1 role)
Robust AI (14 roles)
Sanctuary AI (14 roles)
Sakar Robotics (6 roles)
Scythe Robotics (11 roles)
Seegrid (10 roles)
Sphinx (5 roles)
Stack AV (40 roles)
Sunnybotics (2 roles)
The AI Institute (19 roles)
Titan Robotics (3 roles)
UnitX (8 roles)
Vecna Robotics (7 roles)
Vention (20 roles)
Viam (4 roles)
Volley Automation (10 roles)

Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Jobs for the Future's new $50M fund looks to invest in underrepresented founders | TechCrunch

Two years ago, Jobs for the Future (JFF), a nonprofit dedicated to helping low-wage workers attain upward mobility, established a venture arm, JFFVentures, to back innovative employment tech.

In a move implying that the launch went well, JFFVentures today unveiled its second fund, JFFVentures Fund II, with a target of $50 million — $15 million has been raised so far.

The new fund — furnished in part by the Autodesk Foundation, the Workday Foundation and the American Council on Education — will target founders building HR, education and workforce solutions that “enable economic mobility for workers in middle to low-wage jobs,” said JFFVentures Fund managing partner Sabari Raja.

“We’re looking to invest in 30 to 35 pre-seed- and seed-stage startups, with initial check sizes between $250,000 [and] $1 million, with the ability to lead rounds,” Raja told TechCrunch. “We’ll reserve $1 million to $2 million for follow-on investments into companies that are outperforming from a financial and impact perspective.”

JFFVentures Fund II joins the growing number of impact-focused VC funds stateside, which seek to drive social, economic and environmental change while earning investment returns. Others include Collaborative Fund, Third Sphere, and the nonprofit Acumen Fund.

Impact investing is a massive — and expanding — opportunity. According to the Global Impact Investing Network, an international think tank, the private impact market grew to approximately $1.2 trillion at the end of 2021, up 63% since 2019.

But impact funds face challenges that many traditional startup investment vehicles don’t.

For one, it can be difficult for VCs to measure an investment target’s real-world impacts or progress. Impact funds have historically offered lower returns, according to a 2021 study from Cambridge Associates. And many impact funds have limited track records, since the sector is so new.

So how is JFFVentures Fund II planning to avoid these pitfalls?

Well, Raja says, while the fund is operationally independent from JFF, JFFVentures Fund II will benefit from the wider JFF community, including its connections with government, corporate, education and nonprofit partners. Founders in Fund II will be able to tap at least one dedicated person who is focused on connecting portfolio companies to experts and networks across the JFF ecosystem, Raja added.

“We’re honed in on the journey of the worker in middle- to low-wage jobs, investing in novel technologies that provide them the education, access to quality jobs, tools for employers to support their career growth and wrap-around services that help them outside of work so they can thrive at work,” she said. “We have expertise and experience solving critical workforce problems with technology-enabled approaches.”

Yigal Kerszenbaum, another managing partner at JFFVentures, said that a top priority for Fund II is “economic advancement for the underserved and underrepresented populations.” Kerszenbaum called out women, disabled workers, immigrants, aging populations and communities of color as examples.

“Diversity is embedded into the design and DNA of the fund,” Kerszenbaum said. “Five out of the six team members are female, and we’re majority immigrants and speak seven languages across the team. Many of us are first-gen college students. Additionally, 100% of our ten-person advisory board is female, many of whom are investors, subject-matter experts and operators that come from diverse backgrounds.”

Plenty of funds have diversity goals that they don’t meet. (The DEI backlash hasn’t helped.) But Kerszenbaum says that Fund II has been structured from a legal perspective to ensure it remains true to its mission.

“We’ve committed in our fund docs that at least 50% of Fund II founders will identify as underrepresented in terms of founder backgrounds,” he said. “Additionally, part of the team has been allocated carry, which will be earned by hitting certain social impact goals, some of which are tied to founder diversity.”

A sticking point could be balancing those goals with returns.

The 2021 study from Cambridge Associates found that the typical impact venture fund tends to underperform, faring little better than the S&P 500 over a 21-year period. In the cohort Cambridge looked at, the bottom quartile of funds returned just 2.43% to limited partners.

Kerszenbaum pointed to JFFVentures’ inaugural fund performance as evidence Fund II can succeed, though.

Sixty-five percent of the first fund’s 55 founders — 84% of whom self-identify as underrepresented in the VC space — have gone on to successfully raise capital from late-stage investors, Kerszenbaum says. JFFVentures is also reserving the right to invest up to 20% of Fund II in startups based outside of the U.S., in contrast to the first fund’s exclusively domestic purview — giving the VC an additional lever to boost returns.

“We aspire to be the gold standard for nonprofit-private partnerships that can amplify innovation and impact and unlock value for entrepreneurs, investors and beneficiaries alike,” Kerszenbaum said. “Our goal is to be the first stop for entrepreneurs building at the intersection of innovation and impact because our value-add beyond the check has meaningful, measurable outcomes towards growth.”

Software Development in Sri Lanka