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University of Michigan School of Information


Lionel Robert publishes book on the effect of artificial intelligence on the workplace

Wednesday, 07/31/2019

The statistics are staggering. Some artificial intelligence experts are predicting that robots and automation could replace 40 percent of jobs worldwide. These numbers should sound a warning bell not just for the low- and medium-skill workers vulnerable to being replaced, but also to companies who will need qualified workers with the digital skills required to work in this new environment.   

Lionel Robert, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, is the co-author of the book Managing Technology and Middle- and Low-Skilled Employees, published by Emerald Publishing Limited.

In the book, Robert and his co-authors Claretha Hughes, Kristin Frady and Adam Arroyos lay out a framework for employers to understand how evolving technologies will affect their workforce, and offer practical advice for integrating technology and employees harmoniously. 

Robert, whose recent research has centered around autonomous vehicles and cobots (robots as coworkers), explains that the world is entering what experts are calling the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“In the third industrial age, machine replaced man and eliminated the human-to-human interaction,” says Robert. “Now we’re replacing the human interaction with robots and artificial intelligence.”

The book examines the impact changing technology will have on employee engagement, the function of virtual teams, the challenge of hiring and retaining qualified employees, managing via artificial intelligence, and the need to retrain existing employees to use emerging technologies. 

Robert says incorporating artificial intelligence and technology in the workplace will not eliminate the need for human employees. With planning and flexibility, employers should be able to train middle- and low-skilled workers to fill available jobs.

“With this book, we’re showing companies how to give these workers the chance to succeed, and help them capitalize on AI instead of being victimized by it,” says Robert.  

Managing Technology and Middle- and Low-Skilled Employees is available in hardcover or as an e-book at

- Jessica Webster, UMSI PR Specialist