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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 Those who had been replaced by a robot (about 14%), estimated that 47% of all jobs have been taken over by robots.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, Interesting) by jelizondo on Thursday November 24, @12:57AM (3 children)

    by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @12:57AM (#1281367) Journal

    On one hand, automation, even in the form of simple mechanization like the cotton gin and waterwheel-driven grain grinding, does displace some jobs. But that's been going on for more than 200 years

    The difference is that we are close to having good enough AI (not general AI) that machines design, fabricate and service robots. No need for humans to get involved into anything to do with production or maintenence.

    Once we get there, it will be utopia: everyone gets to be an artist or philosopher or whatever. Or we turn into little more than animals while the rich enjoy life!

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @03:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @03:07AM (#1281382)
    Yeah as various people have said - there were no new jobs for horses: https://alphorisms.medium.com/no-jobs-for-horses-e0748f565e3a

    Also you can pretend the cheaper workers in Asia are "robots" who are taking over many US/"Western" jobs. Did enough new jobs or alternatives (basic income etc) appear for the people in such cases?

    If they did in your country, then good for you, otherwise you're going to be screwed.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by RS3 on Thursday November 24, @03:11AM

    by RS3 (6367) on Thursday November 24, @03:11AM (#1281383)

    I like optimism! I feel some cynicism creeping in... something will break it...

    But it reminds me of some Star Trek episodes, and I'm sure there are many other similar fiction / sci-fi stories.

    One episode was called "Spock's Brain", which I liked, but it got a lot of negative reviews. A utopian planet was controlled by a computer that broke. The people were all pretty daft, but happy. There was this helmet that could give a human super intelligence, but it would wear off. Somehow the people knew about Spock, and using the helmet of knowledge, they removed his brain, replacing it with something that would keep his body alive. Of course they used his brain to run the planet. The Trekkers figured it out, McCoy used the helmet of knowledge to replace Spock's brain back into his body, and somehow someone fixed the computer, and the Trekkers trekked onward. IIRC, of course. :)

    I guess the moral of the story is: in that future utopian world, don't be the one smart person.

  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @03:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @03:17AM (#1281385)

    Once we get there, it will be utopia: everyone gets to be an artist or philosopher or whatever.

    AIs are already better at art and music than the average human:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-artists.html [nytimes.com]

    https://youtu.be/Emidxpkyk6o [youtu.be]
    https://www.unite.ai/best-ai-music-generators/ [unite.ai]

    Less bad option is pampered pet of the State/AIs. That said there's a chance as long as it remains a democracy and only humans can vote and run for elections. But the track record for that isn't that great right?