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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 Those who had been replaced by a robot (about 14%), estimated that 47% of all jobs have been taken over by robots.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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @06:37AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @06:37AM (#1281411)

    My question here is what has changed that we should take these claims seriously?

    Previously the automation was mostly about automating "stupid stuff" with the focus on high labor stuff.

    The upcoming automation is about automating "smarter stuff". And in case you haven't noticed already, there are a LOT of stupid people around and the last I checked, they sure aren't getting smarter.
    There were no new jobs for horses:
    https://alphorisms.medium.com/no-jobs-for-horses-e0748f565e3a [medium.com]
    https://youtu.be/7Pq-S557XQU [youtu.be]

    Also you can pretend the cheaper workers in Asia[1] 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.

    Lastly, don't forget those hordes of supposedly smart and educated "western" workers insisting on "work from home" jobs. If your job can be done at home, maybe it could be done in Vietnam etc for less than a quarter the cost.

    [1] The jobs of these lower cost workers will be at threat too from automation ( https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36376966 [bbc.com] ), so they will be competing with automation/robots AND more expensive workers in the Western world.

    They cost less and their output won't necessarily be lower quality: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/01/16/169528579/outsourced-employee-sends-own-job-to-china-surfs-web [npr.org]

    And it turns out that the job done in China was above par — the employee's "code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building,"

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday November 24, @02:12PM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @02:12PM (#1281469) Journal

    Previously the automation was mostly about automating "stupid stuff" with the focus on high labor stuff.

    The upcoming automation is about automating "smarter stuff".

    The upcoming automation is really about marketing.

    There were no new jobs for horses

    There remain plenty of old jobs [archive.org] for horses - 9.2 million of them still in the US for example with, get this, 4.6 million humans involved as well.

    In addition, a human happens to be more flexible than a horse. For a glaring example, we can always employ each other, should we get dropped out of the general economy and somehow unable to enjoy the fruits of smart automation. That goes on now and it's quite adequate for the entire human race.

    Also you can pretend the cheaper workers in Asia[1] 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.

    If "my country" were say the US, Japan, Canada, most of the EU (outside of the PIGS), etc that would be "not screwed". The narrative doesn't fit what's actually happening.

    Lastly, don't forget those hordes of supposedly smart and educated "western" workers insisting on "work from home" jobs. If your job can be done at home, maybe it could be done in Vietnam etc for less than a quarter the cost.

    There's only so many people in Vietnam. Eventually, and by "eventually" I really mean within 30-50 years, we'll run out of that cheap labor outside of Africa. Then it'll be the countries with the better infrastructure and policies that will do better. Strong automation will be part of that better infrastructure and policies.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @03:53PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @03:53PM (#1281493)

      There remain plenty of old jobs [archive.org] for horses - 9.2 million of them

      There used to be 20+ million horses.