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Smeal College of Business Professor On The Robots Among Us

Smeal Professor

The MBA concentration in supply chain management at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business offers a wealth of opportunities across a multitude of industries.

Robots, a recent book by John Jordan, clinical professor of supply chain and information systems, sets out to reveal some truths about the field of robotics.

Jordan is specifically interested in its effects not only for delivery systems, but also on the interaction between robots and humans in the past, at present and in the future. Published by the MIT Press, Robots explores the history, evolution, and future of the ever advancing mechanism. Jordan goes further to address the questions that we must ask ourselves in our daily interactions.

He starts with the very essence of the word ‘robot’.  In a recent interview, Jordan said, “It depends so much on what definition … you use; there’s no agreement on anything precise. Is an ATM machine, airport check-in kiosk, or self-checkout lane at Home Depot a robot? Some say yes, some say no, but all of those change [supply chains]. GM has been using assembly line robots for about 50 years now, but those aren’t autonomous, so they don’t qualify as [such, according] to some.”

Jordan goes on to explore the deployment of artificial intelligence in ever increasing facets of daily life. Robotics design, he says, “[embodies] such nontechnical elements as value judgments, professional aspirations, and ethical assumptions.”

We can probably agree that the self-checkout lane at the supermarket does not jump to such levels.

Or does it?

Jordan officially joined Smeal back in 2005. Prior to which, the author and professor held high positions at both EY and management consultant firm Capgemini. Jordan earned an undergraduate degree in political science and history from Duke, as well as a master’s in ethics from Yale and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

More information, including Jordan’s TedX talks, can be found on the MIT Press website.

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About the Author

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Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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