The public in many countries think that automation will lead to ‘significant' job losses and are doubtful about the technology's impact on efficiency and output, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Greece tops the chart, with 91 per cent of the population believing that automation will ‘definitely' or ‘probably' replace many jobs currently done by humans in the next 50 years. Japan (89 per cent) and Canada (84 per cent) came next, although most of those respondents thought that it was ‘probably' likely. After Greece (52 per cent), the ‘definitely' countries were South Africa (45 per cent) and Argentina (40 per cent).
Last month we covered the news, from Skybox Security, that companies in EMEA are among the most wary of automation.
Some countries are already adopting process automation in a big way. South Korea has more than 600 installed robots for every 10,000 human workers in the manufacturing industry - the world's largest user of robotics. Japan and the USA have more than 300 and 200 per 10,000, respectively.
The USA was the country where people were most sceptical about robots replacing humans: only 15 per cent thought it ‘definitely' likely.
Profit maximisation and labour costs are helping to drive the adoption of automation. After the significant initial cost, Pew says that robots cost only around $4 an hour to run, compared to $49 for a human in Germany or $36 in the USA.
The majority of people in each country surveyed believe that workers will be worse off and that inequality will escalate (more than 70 per cent in all countries apart from Italy and Poland) in line with automation adoption.
Few people expect technological advances to create new, better-paying roles: only Canada came close to half of the population believing this (47 per cent). In other countries, only around a third of respondents shared this belief.
People who are pessimistic about the current state of the economy were also found to be more likely to have a negative view of automation.
Respondents feel that it is up to government, schools and individuals to ensure that the workforce is prepared for automation. Only in the USA, where personal responsibility is given great weight, did less than half of the population (35 per cent) think that the government should be involved. Conversely, respondents in the USA share the highest belief (72 per cent) - with Argentina - that it is up to individuals to prepare themselves.
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