According to a new survey of more than 4,100 people in the U.S., presented byQuenton Fottrell, and released recently by the Pew Research Center, most Americans expect warnings about automation advancements to have a negative impact on both the workforce and the U.S. economy. 67% of people are worried, rather than enthusiastic, (22%) about algorithms evaluating and choosing job candidates, though people are more sanguine when it comes to driverless cars (54% express worry) and robot caregivers (47% express worry).
These findings, shown in the report, suggest workers are fearful of automation:
Lead author Aaron Smith, an associate director of research at Pew Research Center, says “The public is extremely wary about allowing machines to replace human responsibilities and human decision-making. They worry that even the most advanced technologies can never truly duplicate the creativity and insight of humans.” And, says the report, they also strongly support policies that limit the reach of automation technologies and that place humans more fully in control of their processes.
76% of those surveyed by Pew expect that economic inequality will become “much worse” if robots and computers are able to perform many of the jobs that are currently done by humans. And only one-quarter of respondents believe the economy will create many new, better-paying jobs for humans if this scenario becomes a reality. Additionally, 64% expect that people will have a hard time finding things to do with their lives if forced to compete with advanced robots and computers.
The highest concentration of industrial robots, says the report, occurs in the Midwest and Upper South of the U.S., according to data released in August by the Brookings Institution. More than half of the nation’s 233,305 industrial robots are burning welds, painting cars, assembling products, handling materials, or packaging things in 10 Midwestern and Southern states, led by Michigan (28,000 robots or 12% of total number), Ohio (20,400 or 8.7%), and Indiana (19,400 or 8.3%). The entire West accounts for just 13% of the nation’s industrial robots.
Finally, the report offers solace for some, by noting that the better a job pays, the less likely it is to be replaced by automation:
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