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posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 23, @08:12AM   Printer-friendly

The study found that robots aren't replacing humans at the rate most people think, but people are prone to exaggerate the rate of robot takeover:

It's easy to believe that robots are stealing jobs from human workers and drastically disrupting the labor market; after all, you've likely heard that chatbots make more efficient customer service representatives and that computer programs are tracking and moving packages without the use of human hands.

But there's no need to panic about a pending robot takeover just yet, says a new study from BYU sociology professor Eric Dahlin. Dahlin's research found that robots aren't replacing humans at the rate most people think, but people are prone to severely exaggerate the rate of robot takeover.

The study, recently published in Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, found that only 14% of workers say they've seen their job replaced by a robot. But those who have experienced job displacement due to a robot overstate the effect of robots taking jobs from humans by about three times.

[...] Those who had been replaced by a robot (about 14%), estimated that 47% of all jobs have been taken over by robots. Similarly, those who hadn't experienced job replacement still estimated that 29% of jobs have been supplanted by robots.

"Overall, our perceptions of robots taking over is greatly exaggerated," said Dahlin. "Those who hadn't lost jobs overestimated by about double, and those who had lost jobs overestimated by about three times."

Attention-grabbing headlines predicting a dire future of employment have likely overblown the threat of robots taking over jobs, said Dahlin, who noted that humans' fear of being replaced by automated work processes dates to the early 1800s.

[...] Dahlin says these findings are consistent with previous studies, which suggest that robots aren't displacing workers. Rather, workplaces are integrating both employees and robots in ways that generate more value for human labor.

Journal Reference:
Eric Dahlin, Are Robots Really Stealing Our Jobs? Perception versus Experience [open], Socius, 8, 2022. DOI: 10.1177/23780231221131377


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by deimtee on Wednesday November 23, @07:51PM (4 children)

    by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday November 23, @07:51PM (#1281325) Journal

    In the UK at least there are a number of seasonal farm related jobs we just cannot get people to do anymore that could do with robotic automation.

    The classic one is picking of soft fruit and strawberries in particular.

    No, farmers refuse to offer enough pay to get people to do the job. Would you pick strawberries for one quid a day? No. Would you pick strawberries for 200 quid an hour? Yes. Somewhere in the middle supply and demand meet.

    We've got good robotics and automation of tough stuff like cauliflowers but soft fruit is a real challenge.
    I'm sure this will eventually be sorted but the cost of the solution may be too high to make it economical.

    It's the free market, innit? When wages get high enough to get people to do the job farmers will have to decide which is cheaper, hiring people or hiring robots.

    --
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  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Thursday November 24, @11:17AM

    by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @11:17AM (#1281442)

    > It's the free market, innit? When wages get high enough to get people to do the job farmers will have to decide which is cheaper, hiring people or hiring robots.

    There is a competing pressure which you don't mention. If you pay £200 an hour to pick strawberries, then I can work for one hour a day and pay the rent. I wonder if that is in the economics models.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 25, @05:05AM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 25, @05:05AM (#1281544) Journal
    Keep in mind that the customer for those strawberries is who ultimately pays for all the costs of strawberry farming and picking. Your farmer starts paying people 200 quid an hour merely to pick strawberries, then strawberry consumption will go way down due to the high price for strawberries. There is a pathology here to drive up costs of living just so people can have well-paying low skill jobs.
    • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Friday November 25, @08:20AM (1 child)

      by deimtee (3272) on Friday November 25, @08:20AM (#1281559) Journal

      It's not a pathology, it's a free market. If people won't pick for one quid a day then your strawberries are going to cost more. If that makes them a luxury good that only the rich can afford then so what. You don't get to force slaves to pick them just because you want cheap strawberries.

      For someone who claims to be a free market advocate you sure do like bitching whenever that free market favours the workers instead of the owners.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday November 25, @02:59PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 25, @02:59PM (#1281596) Journal

        It's not a pathology, it's a free market.

        Except, of course, when it's not. Here, we have three other factors: agriculture subsidies, labor regulation, and conflict of interest from government. I couldn't determine how the UK handles agriculture, particularly strawberries or soft fruit, but it's common to pay for fruit production in order to insure a certain level of production and price floor. In the alleged situation where labor has to be paid a lot in order to pick such fruit, it's likely that the price would be above the price floor. That's going to run hard into the third factor - conflict of interest from government. More on that in a minute.

        The second factor is a cost inflation factor for all labor. Some regulation is necessary to protect the worker - workplace safety laws, for example. But some isn't - like minimum wage, labor union rules, and limits on work weeks. Those drive up costs of labor without providing any value in response (aside from the special interests that benefit from the regulation). This has some degree of synergy too. As labor is made more expensive, it increases the cost of everything that is dependent on that labor.

        Finally, you have a considerable conflict of interest from government. What this means is that if some subsidy or regulation has bad optics (like a subsidy for an expensive good), they have strong incentive to manipulate the market in order to look better - such as increasing the immigration of foreign farm workers when strawberries get too expensive (or even subsidizing the development of agriculture automation). Another example would be ratcheting up minimum wage as inflation increases. It's not good optics to have a minimum wage below market minimum wage. They have to appear to be doing something.

        These factors increase the cost of living while simultaneously decreasing the value of labor. And they're all non-market.