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Work Shift

Software Robots Are Gaining Ground in White-Collar Office World

Artificial intelligence is getting better at all kinds of office tasks. That’s making businesses more efficient — but it could also pose a threat to jobs


Source: Getty Images

First they came for factory jobs. Then they showed up in service industries. Now, machines are making inroads into the kind of white-collar office work once thought to be the exclusive preserve of humans.

The latest wave of automation is building on advances in artificial intelligence and machine-learning that allow computers to perform tasks like speech recognition, and make some of the decisions that used to be reserved for employees. Unlike sophisticated machinery on assembly lines, or kiosks where consumers pay for groceries or order burgers, these are robots you can’t see.