Americans Believe Robots Will Take Everyone’s Jobs But Their Own

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SoftBank's Pepper Robot Unboxed
Pepper, the humanoid robot. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Today in robot news: Americans have managed to be both incredibly woke and incredibly un-woke in a recent poll about technology. Specifically, most Americans believe robots and computers will replace a lot of human labor in the next 50 years — but most think it won’t impact their jobs, personally. In other words, most of us believe robots are taking everyone else’s jobs but ours.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 2,001 adults in June and July of 2015 and basically found that while Americans are fully convinced of our pending irrelevance, we’re a lot more worried about our shitty cube-mates than being ousted by an algorithm:

65% of Americans expect that within 50 years robots and computers will ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ do much of the work currently done by humans…an even larger share (80%) expect that their own jobs or professions will remain largely unchanged and exist in their current forms 50 years from now. And although 11% of today’s workers are at least somewhat concerned that they might lose their jobs as a result of workforce automation, a larger number are occupied by more immediate worries – such as displacement by lower-paid human workers, broader industry trends or mismanagement by their employers.”

The American workforce is a fat sitcom husband cracking open a beer, farting into the couch, and saying, “She’s been with me too long to leave me now!”

Of the people surveyed, privileged ones seemed to be the most skeptical that full automation would ever be possible — the higher your level of education and the higher your income, the less likely you were to think you could be replaced by technology.

37% of those with a college degree think that this outcome is unlikely (compared with 28% of those who have not attended college), as do 38% of Americans with an annual household income of $75,000 or more (compared with 27% of those with an annual household income of less than $30,000 per year).”

While that’s great news for the self-esteem of the wealthy and educated, it opens up the question of who is wokest — the people willing to admit they could potentially be replaced by a robot, or the people unwilling to admit anything like that could ever be possible?

Unfortunately, there’s no current research into wokeness by demo, so this survey ends up leaving us with the vaguest, most American results of all: None of us know what we’re doing, and that’s just fine. Probably.

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Americans in Denial About Robots Taking Jobs