Here’s What Could Be Replacing HR in the Not-Too-Distant Future

It’s name is Baxter, and it costs $22,000.

Here’s how they described it in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Baxter … sits on a gurney and can be set down safely just about anywhere on a factory floor. Its eyes are on a swiveling computer screen and greet any worker who approaches. To teach Baxter a job, a human simply grab its arms, simulates the desired task, and presses a button to set the pattern.

Another idea behind Baxter is that it will be upgradable. The company plans to update Baxter’s software for free every few months, enabling more complex behaviors such as two-handed manipulation. 

Early next year, Rethink (the Boston-based company that developed Baxter) will start selling it this month, will also release a set of programming instructions so developers can come up with their own tasks and attachments for the machine. …

With five cameras, a sonar sensor that detects motion 360 degrees around it, and enough intelligence to learn tasks within an hour, Baxter is designed to work safely alongside humans and do simple jobs such as picking items off a conveyor belt. It’s also cheap enough, at $22,000 a unit, so that the investment math works: If Baxter performs three years of eight-hour shifts, it’s the equivalent of labor at $4 an hour.”

If you think your new iPhone 5 is cool, just wait until this dude takes over your job.

But wait, Tim – a Robot could not do my job in HR!” It can if all you do is transactional stuff, and it will probably have a better attitude, too. Plus, at $4 an hour true cost over a three-year period, what do I have to lose?

What are you doing right now – today – in your organization to add value? Better start doing something, because Baxter is coming.

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This originally appeared on the blog The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


2 Comments on “Here’s What Could Be Replacing HR in the Not-Too-Distant Future

  1. If HR is only doing “transactional stuff” it certainly could be replaced by a robot, but we would argue an HR team
    like that leaves a lot to be desired. If HR managers aren’t already focusing on Social HR, now is the time to get started. Social HR reinforces the company’s mission,
    vision, and values, and it can’t be duplicated by a robot like Baxter. I work at TribeHR and if you
    would like to learn more, check out our blog post on the subject:

  2. Way to write a spooky post for Halloween, Tim! But if you think about it, a lot of our work in HR is already replaced by machinery, software, and automation — right? We should already aim to provide value in our jobs. Hopefully Baxter isn’t the thing the scares you into that. I’m interested to see where this technology goes, though I’m sure it’s been around for awhile.

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