The public is broadly fearful that automation will lead to significant job losses, with many populations skeptical that the technologies will boost economic efficiency, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 10 countries.
Greece, South Africa, and Argentina express the highest degree of certainty that technology will displace human workers (see chart). But large majorities in all 10 countries agree that automation will “definitely” or “probably” lead to significant job losses. The lowest percentage was the United States (65 percent).
Large majorities in all 10 countries also agree people will have a hard time finding work and inequality will worsen due to automation and artificial intelligence.
One question with a big range was whether automation would make the economy more efficient. Majorities in seven countries were wary of that upside, with just 33 percent of Italians taking that view. But majorities accepted that argument in Japan (74 percent), Poland (61 percent) and Hungary (52 percent).
Another area of variance was the government’s role in preparing the workforce for the future. Argentina, Brazil, and Italy were among the countries where more than 70 percent say the public sector should assume this responsibility, a view shared by just 35 percent in the United States.
“People are much more worried about the impact on jobs and inequality than they are that automation is going to increase efficiency in the economy or create new job opportunities,” says Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at Pew.
“The positive argument for this whole economic trend is not resonating with at least the public we surveyed,” he adds. “Simply telling people, ‘Don’t worry. This will be good for you’ is not being accepted.”
Most robots and computers will take over many jobs now done by humans
How likely do you think it is that in the next 50 years, robots and computers will do much of the work currently done by humans?
Note: U.S. data from survey conducted June 10-July12, 2015.
Source: Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey. Q80.
Pew Research Center