'Robot Talks' come to Windsor, look at manufacturing automation and jobs

Researchers are coming to Windsor this week to ask people how robots and automation are affecting them.

Meetings held Tuesday night in Windsor and Wednesday night in Chatham

A robotic arm helps manufacture sinks at Ying Ao Kitchen Utensils in Foshan, China. The company replaced 256 workers with nine of the robotic machines in 2016 (CBC)

Researchers are coming to Windsor this week to ask people how robots and automation are affecting them. 

According to the researcher's findings, 42 percent of Canadian jobs are likely to be affected in some way by automation over the next 10 to 20 years.

Sarah Doyle is leading the project by the Brookfield Institute at Ryerson University, She said there is not enough known about how this technology push will impact people and communities.

"I think it's really important for us to get a better understanding of how technology change is impacting Ontarians in communities across the province," she said. 

Doyle explained that some tasks will be more easily automated than others and new types of jobs and industries will also develop through this type of technology. 

"I think it's important to recognize the upside and downside. It's a very mixed picture," she said. 

The rapidly evolving technology is especially hard on manufacturing sectors like in Windsor, said Doyle, which is why her team is coming to the area to hear from actual people. 

"We're particularly interested in speaking with workers who have seen technology change the nature of their jobs or have been impacted in some way by automation," she said, adding that they're looking to develop approaches and training to help workers go through these transitions.

"In order to get those right, we really need to understand how these changes are impacting real people and real communities."

The travelling consultation called "Robot Talks" will be at the Ciociaro Club Tuesday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre in Chatham Wednesday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.