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​Most Americans Think Robots Will Take All the Jobs, Just Not Theirs

Two-thirds of those polled see workforce automation as inevitable.

by Rachel Pick
Mar 10 2016, 3:00pm

Image: Matthew Hurst / Flickr

Americans have already begun to brace themselves for the impending robot takeover of the workforce—but most still believe their jobs are safe. That's the finding of a new study released by Pew Thursday morning: Some two-thirds of the Americans believe that in fifty years, robots and computers will "probably" or "definitely" be performing most of the work currently carried out by humans.

However, 80 percent of those polled also said their own job will "probably" or "definitely" still exist at that time, revealing perhaps that most of us think that ourown jobs could only be performed by a human being.

The data reveals a fascinating contradiction: While we might believe automation is a threat to the workforce at large, individually, we seem mostly confident that we're irreplaceable. This natural strain of narcissism could create a blind spot, enabling workforce automation to take us by surprise.

The breakdown was relatively consistent among demographics, but younger people (ages 18-29) and people who work in the public sector (including educators and government employees) were both slightly more likely to believe their job is secure. Both groups were also slightly more skeptical of workforce automation in general.

But while most of us might view the machine takeover as somewhat inevitable, at least in the abstract, it's not an immediate concern for us just yet. Most of those polled were more worried about losing their jobs to outsourcing, a shrinking industry, or a poorly managed company.

At least we're all in the same terrible boat together.