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A-I, Yi, Yi: We Think Robots Will Take Somebody Else's Job, Not Ours

How do you feel about artificial intelligence in the workplace? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing?

A new survey reveals a high level of human anxiety around automation and the rise of AI. But the survey reveals another tidbit that's even more interesting: we think robots will take somebody else's job, not ours!

You Can't Take That (Job) Away From Me
The American Staffing Association/Harris Poll Workforce Monitor survey finds slightly more than one-third (34%) of Americans think automation at work will be a positive development for the workplace over the next decade, while 31% who say it will be negative development. The rest (35%) don't have an opinion either way, or don't know.

Survey participants, however, tend to agree robots will have a substantial impact on hiring. More than three-fourths surveyed (79%) think automation will fundamentally change the quantity of available jobs, while more than two-thirds (68%) think robots will change the types of American jobs for which they can apply.

Verging on three-fourths (72%) think more robots at work will lead to higher unemployment. Check it out in chart form.

Now for the most interesting statistic: Nearly three-fourths (73%) surveyed seem to think their job is coated in robot-repellent teflon! They think robots or artificial intelligence could never, ever replace them on the job. In fact, the vast majority (85%) believe humans have a certain workplace je ne sais quoi that no amount of mechanization could ever replicate, and (90%) say that there are simply some tasks that automation will never be able to take away from humans.

Now let's look at television, where robot creep is happening between breaking news updates. Here is IBM's Watson diagnosing patients.

And running the numbers.

It's not only whip-smart Watson; Betty the Robotic Office Manager is doing some management by rolling around, too. A February 2017 Talent Trends Report from talent solutions company Randstad Sourceright, meanwhile, found one-quarter of businesses had increased automation and robotics in the past 12 months.

Today, at this very moment, people are worried Whole Foods employees will be replaced by robots.

The British Standards Institution issued an official ethics guidance last year regarding human-robot interaction in the workplace, since it's apparently nigh time for one.

Are we being too naive in thinking our own job is irreplaceable? With any luck, we will be able to find the right balance between automation and the human workforce. The intersection between the human workforce and AI is THE most pressing workforce issue of the 21st Century, and we need to come up with a workable plan for incorporating both sides seamlessly. Maybe Watson could work on it over the weekend?


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