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Pittsburgh Could Lead The Way In America's Robotic & Artificial Intelligence Future

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Our cars will drive us to work, where robots will be our partners in performing our assigned tasks.

Back at home, they'll do our shopping, deliver our groceries and make our dinner.

A decade from now, our lives will be transformed by the robotic and artificial intelligence technologies being developed right here in Pittsburgh.

"In 10 years, our lives are going to be completely different and Pittsburgh is going to be a key component in driving those changes" said Byron Clayton of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing.

In many ways, the future has already arrived here. Around the city, you can see it's pioneers. Google is expanding its artificial intelligence research in East Liberty.

In the Strip District, Uber Advanced Technologies and Argo AI are fine-tuning driver-less cars.

There are innovations abound at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotic Engineering Center in Lawrenceville, and CMU's Entertainment Technology Center on the Mon has no equal. Every major technology company in the country is now here to collaborate with CMU and siphon off its graduates.

"We are the leader, this is where you come," said Clayton. "Just look at the industry. Google, Facebook, Amazon. Look at all the major companies that are here. Working with people here who have offices here."

The fear around the country is that this revolution in robotics and automation will take away our jobs, but Clayton says it actually presents an opportunity to create new industries, especially here in Pittsburgh.

"We're going to lose jobs, no doubt about it. We're going to create better jobs. We're going to end up creating more jobs than when we lose," Clayton said.

We'll need workers to service and repair robots but Clayton says more importantly, all types of workers will be needed to create the industries that produce the robots and industries that use them to manufacture things. Workers working alongside robots, he believes, will make American manufacturing competitive again.

"We're never going to be the low-labor rate nation. So we compete on productivity. Robots can help become more productive and that can help bring some of these jobs back and the new jobs that are being created will stay here," he said.

But the challenges for Pittsburgh are great. In a report, the Brookings Institute studied our robotics and AI future and concluded that while the city has the research in spades, its population growth is stagnant and it has yet to translate its ideas and prototypes into a major industry.

But CMU's Red Whittaker has little doubt that Pittsburgh will make the leap.

"Pittsburgh has a pretty fair record in building the kind of industry that changes the world, again and again and again," he said.

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