Humanity is sitting on the cusp of an artificial intelligence boom, as the technology transitions from rare and experimental to ubiquitous and standard.
Society is grappling with what it means for AI to creep slowly into the mainstream. Sci-fi films (Ex Machina, Her) and television shows (Humans, Battlestar Gallactica) reflect fears of AI, but our feelings about this new technology are complicated.
A recent Pew Research survey of 2,001 people revealed that 65 percent of Americans think robots will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work currently done by humans within 50 years. But, interestingly, 80 percent of participants did not think their own jobs would be affected or would dramatically change over that time period.
An even more extreme 36 percent said their own jobs will “definitely” exist in their current forms in 50 years.
The findings indicate that most people believe their own work could not be replicated by a machine but that many other occupations could be automated.
That’s not to say Americans feel an overwhelming sense of job security. About one in five people said they’re concerned that poor management, their overall industry shrinking, or competition from employees willing to work for less could cause them to lose their jobs. Only 11 percent said they’re at least somewhat concerned that they might lose their jobs because of machines.
As workplace automation increases, it’s unlikely that an 80 percent majority of workers will go unaffected. Still, experts remain conflicted on how artificial intelligence and robots will affect the future of jobs and industry.