Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 10 News List

People around the world fear big job losses from automation: Pew survey

AFP, NEW YORK

The public is broadly fearful that automation would lead to significant job losses, with many populations skeptical the technologies would boost economic efficiency, a survey of 10 countries released on Thursday showed.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center, revealed some variation among the countries polled, with Greece, South Africa and Argentina expressing the highest degree of certainty on the displacement of human workers by technology.

However, large majorities in all 10 nations agreed that automation would “definitely” or “probably” lead to significant job losses. The lowest percentage was the US, with 65 percent, the report said.

Large majorities in the 10 countries also agreed people would have a hard time finding work and that inequality would worsen due to automation and artificial intelligence.

One question with a big range was whether automation would make the economy more efficient. Majorities in seven countries were skeptical of that upside, with just 33 percent of Italians taking that view.

However, there were three exceptions where majorities accepted that argument: Japan (74 percent), Poland (61 percent) and Hungary (52 percent).

Another area of variance was on the government’s role in preparing the workforce for the future.

Argentina, Brazil and Italy were among the nations where more than 70 percent said the public sector should assume this responsibility, a view shared by just 35 percent in the US.

“People are much more worried about the impact on jobs and inequality than they are that this is going to increase efficiency in the economy or create new job opportunities,” said Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at Pew.

“The positive argument for this whole economic trend is not resonating with at least the public we surveyed,” he said. “Simply telling people: ‘Don’t worry. This will be good for you.’ People aren’t accepting it.”

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