When it comes to advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), new research finds that Americans are more worried than excited about what this new technology means for them.
A Pew Research Center survey of 4,135 U.S. adults presented respondents with four different scenarios relating to automation technologies, including the development of autonomous vehicles that can operate without the aid of a human driver and a future in which robots and computers can perform many of the jobs currently done by human workers.
The results found that 72 percent of Americans expressed worry over the advancements, compared to the 33 percent that expressed enthusiasm about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans.
But in comparison, the respondents’ views towards driverless vehicles was met with more balance between worry and enthusiasm, with 75 percent of the public anticipating that self-driving cars will help the elderly and disabled live more independent lives. Still, 81 percent expect that many people who drive for a living will suffer job losses as a result.
And while 39 percent believe that the number of people killed or injured in traffic accidents will decrease if driverless vehicles become widespread, another 30 percent worry that autonomous vehicles will make the roads less safe for humans. In fact, nearly six in 10 said they would not want to ride in a driverless vehicle, citing lack of trust, a fear of losing control and/or general safety concerns as the main reasons for not wanting to use this technology.
Of course, there is also worry about how robotic advancements will affect the workforce, with 76 percent of Americans expecting 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. With that in mind, 85 percent of Americans are in favor of limiting machines to performing primarily those jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans.
There is also a great deal of concern over algorithms that can make hiring decisions without any human involvement, with 67 percent expressing worry over the 22 percent that are enthusiastic about it.