Robots have been taking jobs from humans for decades now, replacing bank tellers with ATMs, cashiers with self-checkout machines, and factory workers with mechanized assembly lines. The fear, of course, is that the bots will grow so intelligent -- and low-maintenance from a management perspective -- that they'll replace us altogether. In a recent New York Times column, Neil Irwin explains why that might not be as likely as some naysayers predict. Why? For one thing, robots don't have a lot of common sense.
Human resources gets a lot of flak from other departments in the company. Much of the good they do (administering benefits, for example) is invisible, while their less enjoyable duties (handing out pink slips) are right out in the open for all to see. Recently, a few companies have done away with HR altogether, replacing some functions with software that automates payroll and benefits, etc. But are workers really better off without an HR department?