Automation Nation

Automated technology and artificial intelligence is increasing within the public sphere at an alarming rate. Smartphones are a societal norm, and many citizens now own “smart home” devices that can be used to control their homes. Numerous science-fiction movies that take place in the future show self-driving cars and robotic companions for humans, and these advancements are seen as the inevitable endgame for our current technology. However, in conversations about automation these are not the things with which Americans primarily concern themselves.

According to a recent study from Pew Research Center, people are most notably concerned about robots and computers controlling the job industry: 72% of citizens said they are worried about automated technologies being able to do many human jobs, and 67% said they are worried about the development of computer algorithms that could hire people for jobs. Less than a third of respondents were enthusiastic about these ideas. Only roughly half of those surveyed were worried about driverless vehicles or robotic caregivers for the elderly, with about 4 in 10 saying that they were excited about these prospects.

Despite Americans’ apprehension about our automated future, their concerns may be alleviated if the government places regulations on what can be done by robots or computers. 85% of those surveyed said they either favor or strongly favor policies that would only allow machines to do jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans to do. Additionally, roughly 60% said they either favor or strongly favor both basic universal income for all Americans and a national service program that would pay people to perform tasks, ensuring that humans do not get left behind financially when automation becomes standard in the job industry.


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