Americans see computers as competition

How safe is your job? Some see robots as a growing threat.
How safe is your job? Some see robots as a growing threat.
The steady march of technology has been largely benign, giving us smartphones, tablets and laptops. But many Americans worry that all this progress could soon spell trouble in the workforce.

     A survey by the Pew Research Center released this week shows that 65 percent of Americans expect that within 50 years robots or computers will definitely or probably do much of the work now done by humans. Researchers interviewed 2,001 adults. Among the findings:

  • Employees involved in manual labor sense more of a threat. For example, 17 percent of manual laborers said they worry about losing their jobs because their employer could replace humans with machines; only 5 percent of desk workers feel that way.
  • Survey respondents were stubbornly optimistic. Even as respondents said that they expected computers to do more work, 80 percent believe their job will be “largely unchanged” the report said.
  • Yes, automation worries workers, but human competition is more of an immediate threat. While 10 percent of workers worry about losing their jobs to automation, they are even more worried about lower-paid human workers.
  • Older workers have a different outlook. Younger workers are more likely than older workers to believe their job will exist 50 years from now. The report said that 84 percent of workers ages 18 to 29 expect that their jobs will exist, while 76 percent of workers ages 50 and older believe their jobs will endure.


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