Life with A.I.

Americans believe robots will take everyone else’s job, but theirs will be safe

A robot delivers meals in a restaurant.
Photo by VCG

You may accept, by now, that robots will take over lots of jobs currently held by human workers. But you probably believe they won't be taking yours. Though other industries are in danger, your position is safe.

That's according to a report released Thursday by LivePerson, a cloud-based messaging company that provides customer service messaging software to companies and which surveyed 2,000 U.S.-based consumers online in January. Their researchers find that only three percent of respondents say they experience fear about losing their job to a robot once a week. By contrast, more than 40 percent of respondents never worry about it.

And a whopping 65 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agree that other industries will suffer because of automation, but theirs will be fine.

Chart courtesy of LivePerson

Despite the barrage of headlines about the imminent danger of automation — some of the biggest names in tech, including Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have floated ideas for how to cope with it — most Americans don't interact with AI enough to fully understand the threat. Those who are more familiar with sophisticated robotics are more afraid of losing their jobs than those who are less familiar, the report says.

A much-cited 2013 study by Oxford University's Carl Frey and Michael Osborne estimates that 47 percent of U.S. jobs will be replaced by robots and automated technology in the next ten to twenty years.

When presented with that data, just over ten percent of survey respondents responded that they were "very worried" or "extremely worried" about losing their job to automation. Almost half were "not at all" worried about losing their job and about 40 percent were "a little worried."

If robots take your job, the government might have to pay you to live
If robots take your job, the government might have to pay you to live

Survey respondents were less secure in their job security over the long term. About 60 percent of survey respondents were "very secure and confident" that their job would be around in ten years.

"While it is clear Americans are unconvinced their jobs are in any immediate or urgent danger of being lost to automation, there remains a certain level of contradiction in their confidence," the report says.

Since they underestimate the danger, Americans may not be preparing for it by learning new skills or getting retrained.

"Without consumers' buy-in, any intermediate programs established to provide new job training or education will go ignored and exasperate the potential chasm that will open between those who lose their jobs to automation and those who don't," the report says.

See also:

Elon Musk: Robots will take your jobs, government will have to pay your wage

Elon Musk says robots will push us to a universal basic income—here's how it would work

About half of Americans support giving residents up to $2000 a month when robots take their jobs

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates think it's 'crazy' to view job-stealing robots as bad