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Clear Majority of Americans Uneasy About Rise of Robots in Society

In a survey that addressed the growing deployment of robots in society, Pew Research has revealed that Americans, by and large, have serious misgivings about the increasing role the machines appear to be playing in everyday life.

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According to The Guardian, over 4,000 Americans were polled by Pew, and greater than 70 percent of those expressed concern, in one way or another, about the continuing trend to have robots replace humans in a variety of capacities.

The Pew survey queried respondents on the influence of robots in four areas: As autonomous (self-driving) cars; as substitutes for human workers; as decision-makers in the workplace hiring process; and as caregivers.

While reticence toward a robot-oriented society is surely understandable at this point, what’s especially interesting is the degree to which Americans seem opposed to those particular uses of robots that have seemingly gained widespread favor.

For example, on the matter of driverless cars, while the consensus on behalf of technology proponents seems to be that such vehicles are going to make driving safer, a majority of ‘regular Americans’ surveyed don’t seem to agree. According to the poll results, 54 percent said they are more worried than enthusiastic about autonomous vehicle technology, with 56 percent saying they’re disinclined to even ride in a driverless vehicle. Contrary to the ‘party line’ being touted by driverless car advocates, a full 30 percent of those polled say their use will result in an increase in road fatalities.

The poll results on the subject of reliance on robots to make hiring decisions are considered surprising, given the degree to which artificial intelligence (AI) is already incorporated in the realm. 76 percent of those polled say they aren’t interested in applying for jobs where the hiring decisions would be made by a computer.

Said one respondent: “A computer cannot measure the emotional intelligence or intangible assets that many humans have. Not every quality can be quantitatively measured by a computer when hiring someone; there is much more learned by face-to-face interactions.”

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

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