Robotics and Social Consequence

by Aaliyah and Carly


Robotics have evolved over time and have been used to industrialize our society in factories, hospitals, constructions and production of mass goods. It is undeniable that robots have benefited society, making our lives easier and safer. However, there are also negative consequences to the increasing development of robots. Job loss is a major impact of robotics. In this webquest, you will look at the history of robotics and how robots have impacted our lifestyle and economy.

Key Terms



Industrial revolution:

Repetitive work:


What defines a robot?  A robot is defined as a machine programmable by a computer capable of automatically carrying out a series of actions. Robots may be controlled with an external device or the controls can be embedded within the robot itself.


You are a time traveler from the 1950s when robots were first starting to be invented. You have been sent to 2020 in order to research how robotics has impacted society. Your job is to report back the positive and negative consequences of robots.

Question to answer: What are the social impacts of robotics?


Please watch the video History of Robotics for some brief background information.

One of the earliest examples is in 3000 B.C. The Egyptians were able to build water clocks with human figurines to strike bells signifying the hour. In 400 B.C. Archytas of Tarentum invented a wooden pigeon that could fly. But the first modern robots were invented in the early 1950s by George C. Devol, an inventor from Louisville, Kentucky. He invented a reprogrammable manipulator and called it “Unimate”. In the late 1960s  Joseph Engleberger was able to modify Devol’s robot. He then created a company called Unimation to produce and market the robots. For his success and efforts he is known as “the Father of Robotics”. In 1958 Charles Rosen from Stanford Research Institute led a team to create a robot called “Shakey”. This robot was more advanced and could wheel around, move in unfamiliar environments, observe things with television like “eyes”, and to some degree respond to its surroundings.

Shakey the robot and Charles Rosen

Use the following chart to gather the information of some famous robots that have made huge impacts. 

Robots (names or types)InventorTime Impact  

Robotics and Economics

Watch the video The Economics of AI from the time stamp 2:17- 4:25 for a brief introduction as to how robotics is affecting our economy.

Robotics has brought up people’s life quality, it increased productivity in manufacturing and our life conveniences.  At the same time, it replaced job opportunities of low skilled workers, but increased that of high paying jobs that required skilled workers. Big companies like Google and Microsoft benefited from robotics and became multi-billion dollar companies However, low skilled workers lost jobs because it is cheaper to have robots than to hire workers. This means that large amounts of money are going to only a few people so less money goes back to the economy. As a result people that are losing their jobs won’t have much money to spend.

Effects of Robotics

Robotics have been used to make our lives easier and safer. There are many positive effects of having robots. For instance, surgical robots make surgeries safer and easier for doctors, such as The Da Vinci Surgical System, invented by an American company called Intuitive Surgical, in 2000. Robots can also be seen in households to help make daily chores easier. The Roomba robot  invented by Joe Jones in 1989, made it so humans would no longer have to vacuum because the Roomba could do it autonomously. Robotics also allows humans to do things they normally couldn’t, like to transport heavy items. This has been evident in the construction industry where heavy objects are lifted with cranes to assist in building houses and structures. 

 Da Vinci Surgical System

Robots have granted opportunities for new discoveries to be made such as space travel and exploration. With modern technology, we are able to send robots to the moon and other planets in our solar system. Dextre is a Canadian robot invented in 2008 by  MacDonald, Dettwiler. It was officially launched in March, 2008. Dextre upgrades batteries on orbital outposts as well as offload supplies brought to the International Space Station and finds signs of damage to the station. Robots can be used to search for signs of life on other planets like NASA’s 2020 Perseverance Rover. The purpose of this rover is to drill and collect martian soil and rock samples. The rover was launched on July, 30, 2020 and is said to touch down on Mars in February, 2021.

Dextre (top left) and NASA’s 2020 Perseverance Rover (bottom right)

Impact of Robotics

Click here and watch the video Robots, Jobs, and You to learn more about the impact of robots.

Robots have replaced some repetitive jobs such as factory workers. Therefore, working opportunities are decreasing and the human workforce could eventually be replaced by robots. Robots work faster and more efficiently than humans and do not leave room for human error. It is also cheaper to use robots than hire workers. Robots could easily replace repetitive jobs such as factory work or cashiers. In stores, cashiers have already started to be replaced by self-checkout machines. Since the industrial revolution, millions of people have lost their jobs to machines. As technology advances, humans will have to find ways to adapt and find new jobs. 


It is clear that robotics has had a major impact on our lifestyles and will continue to affect us in the future. After reading through this webquest and looking at the videos, do you think the impact of robotics has been more positive or negative? How will robotics affect our future and should we continue the rapid technological advancement?


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