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Robots and the origin of their labour-saving impact

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  • Montobbio, Fabio
  • Staccioli, Jacopo
  • Virgillito, Maria Enrica
  • Vivarelli, Marco

Abstract

This paper investigates the presence of explicit labour-saving heuristics within robotic patents. It analyses innovative actors engaged in robotic technology and their economic environment (identity, location, industry), and identifies the technological fields particularly exposed to labour-saving innovations. It exploits advanced natural language processing and probabilistic topic modelling techniques on the universe of patent applications at the USPTO between 2009 and 2018, matched with ORBIS (Bureau van Dijk) firm-level dataset. The results show that labour-saving patent holders comprise not only robots producers, but also adopters. Consequently, labour-saving robotic patents appear along the entire supply chain. The paper shows that labour-saving innovations challenge manual activities (e.g. in the logistics sector), activities entailing social intelligence (e.g. in the healthcare sector) and cognitive skills (e.g. learning and predicting).

Suggested Citation

  • Montobbio, Fabio & Staccioli, Jacopo & Virgillito, Maria Enrica & Vivarelli, Marco, 2020. "Robots and the origin of their labour-saving impact," GLO Discussion Paper Series 471, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:471
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    Cited by:

    1. Fernández-Macías, Enrique & Klenert, David & Antón, José-Ignacio, 2021. "Not so disruptive yet? Characteristics, distribution and determinants of robots in Europe," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 76-89.
    2. Giacomo Domini & Marco Grazzi & Daniele Moschella & Tania Treibich, 2021. "For whom the bell tolls: the firm-level effects of automation on wage and gender inequality," LEM Papers Series 2021/25, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Fabio Montobbio & Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito & Marco Vivarelli, 2021. "Labour-saving automation and occupational exposure: a text-similarity measure," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0021, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    4. Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2021. "Back to the past: the historical roots of labor-saving automation," Eurasian Business Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 11(1), pages 27-57, March.
    5. Fossen, Frank M. & Sorgner, Alina, 2022. "New digital technologies and heterogeneous wage and employment dynamics in the United States: Evidence from individual-level data," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    6. Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2020. "The present, past, and future of labor-saving technologies," LEM Papers Series 2020/37, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    7. Lucrezia Fanti & Dario Guarascio & Massimo Moggi, 2020. "The development of AI and its impact on business models, organization and work," LEM Papers Series 2020/25, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Robotic Patents; Labour-Saving Technology; Search Heuristics; Probabilistic Topic Models;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis

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