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Americans Believe Robots Will Take Everyone Else's Job, But Theirs Will Be Safe, Study Says (cnbc.com) 364

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: You may accept, by now, that robots will take over lots of jobs currently held by human workers. But you probably believe they won't be taking yours. Though other industries are in danger, your position is safe. That's according to a report released by LivePerson, a cloud-based messaging company which surveyed 2,000 U.S.-based consumers online in January. Their researchers find that only three percent of respondents say they experience fear about losing their job to a robot once a week. By contrast, more than 40 percent of respondents never worry about it. And a whopping 65 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agree that other industries will suffer because of automation, but theirs will be fine.
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Americans Believe Robots Will Take Everyone Else's Job, But Theirs Will Be Safe, Study Says

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  • My job... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:22PM (#53924713) Homepage

    Was already taken by Indians. They can have fun fighting the robots for it I guess. It sucked anyway. Good riddance.

    • Re:My job... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:29PM (#53924749)
      The Indians are chosen because they're currently less expensive than the robots, accounting for the total lifecycle of the robots through all of their various duties down the road.

      When the robots are cheaper than the Indians, it's not going to be a matter of a fight, it's going to be saying so-long to the Indians.
      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Indians were chosen because they speak English (albeit with a fairly extreme accent in some cases) and people revolted massively against automated phone systems when companies first tried to roll those out. We still have a strong distaste against even simple directory services if they decide to make the recordings too long or the menus too detailed (and we also hate when they're not detailed enough since we don't always know exactly what terminology they're using for what we need.)

        And of course India's oth

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Your mentioning China reminded me about their manufacturing and how it relates to their pollution problems.

          Manufacturing, especially rote, repeat-times-millions large batch manufacturing is always a perfect role to use robots instead of humans. The first reason China became attractive for manufacturing is the labor costs for unskilled or only moderately skilled workers on assembly lines versus just about everywhere in the West. Second reason, a general lack of rules governing emissions, pollution, and
    • Re:My job... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by s1d3track3D ( 1504503 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:58PM (#53924955)

      Was already taken by Indians.

      I'm so tired of hearing comments like this, nothing was taken! If Asians are now doing the job you used to do it's because it was given to them willingly by US corporate decision makers!
      All this backlash over immigrants ruining America is crap, we have done this ourselves, the 1% needs to keep its revenue growth high and has no problem sacrificing your welfare to do it.

      • Re:My job... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @04:08PM (#53925051) Homepage

        I'm so tired of hearing comments like this, nothing was taken!

        It's not hard to figure out what he meant - He was replaced by Indians. There's a negligible difference between "took my job" and "took over the job I was doing in spite of my protest". Do you also object to the headline, as robots aren't "taking" jobs, they're just being given jobs that used to belong to humans?

        • Do you also object to the headline, as robots aren't "taking" jobs, they're just being given jobs that used to belong to humans?

          Fair enough. I'm probably overreacting based on the current nationalist attitude in the US. Maybe once angry displaced workers start attacking and killing robots I'll have the same reaction.

        • I'll step and say, yes, from his perspective something absolutely was taken. He had a job and it was taken from him. However I agree with the statement that it was not the that took his job from him, it was his own bosses, managers, and company. So yes it is very much "us" doing this to ourselves.

          It doesn't matter though because, as I have frequently been told, if our jobs get taken all we need to do is simply to get different ones. Problem solved! Why didn't I think of that?

      • Re:My job... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lucasnate1 ( 4682951 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @05:53PM (#53925849)

        we have done this ourselves, the 1% needs to keep its revenue growth high and has no problem sacrificing your welfare to do it.

        No, it's not "we" who have done this to ourselves' it's the 1% who has done this to us. The 1% don't see you as part of their "we", and as long as you will see yourself as part of their "we", you will be playing straight into their hands.

    • Was already taken by Indians. They can have fun fighting the robots for it I guess. It sucked anyway. Good riddance.

      They will go on the war path!

  • Well yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ryanrule ( 1657199 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:22PM (#53924715)
    I program the robots.
    • Re: Well yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I make robots that program other robots.

    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      I program Bugs into robots. Greater job security. Robots who try to fix robots cannot even imagine deliberate bugs.

      • You don't have to imagine what caused the wrong to simply replace what is wrong with the algorithmically tested correct solution.
  • Thankfully government rules mean someone has to validate all that automation! Although so far what we've done has been more to ensure we can perform work at a competitive price and timetable rather than actually have fewer staff.
    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      As robots do more of the productive work we have three options - the ot of work workers eventually revolt and kill the robot owners and destroy the robots, the unemployed get employed in govt as robot safety inspectors, the robot owners are taxed at a very high rate and the amount is used to provide Basic income to most people so they can either work on something which interests them but doesnt pay or they can play video games all day.
      Currently we seem to be going down the path of option 2 but I like option

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:25PM (#53924725)

    I'm concerned that my job will be lost to... Indians, automation and age discrimination. However, in no way shape or form do I "experience fear about losing their job to a robot once a week."

    • I came here to say exactly this. I have no illusions that my job as it is right now couldn't be automated. As a matter of fact, I'm personally and actively trying to automate as much of it as I possibly can. I'm sure it's going to happen at some point, so why worry about it. In the mean time I'll just be playing 3D chess and biding my time as the world makes its moves.
    • Also, the survey taker will be more concerned about others' jobs (i.e.: jobs in general), because they see the over-all advances in AI (e.g.: speech recognition in Siri, automatic image tagging in Facebook, automatic face recognition nearly everywhere) and think that in general term, AI is progressing and one day might replace them...

      But when they think about they own job (i.e.: they think about a specific area where they have expertise) they have much more insights on the details (they know all the intrica

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        It's not replacing attorney. Instead it's enabling a law firm to do much more without needing to hire more interns and assistants).

        Sure it's replacing attorneys. What do you think those assistants are, and what the interns are training to be when they graduate?

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          Hiring 10 new lawyers next year instead of 1000 isn't "replacing" lawyers. It's reducing jobs, but "replacing people" implies that someone employed today will be fired and replaced with a robot tomorrow. That's not happening (to the scale implied).
          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            Young associate lawyers being "made redundant from lack of work" (now done by OCR and AI) is happening now.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      in no way shape or form do I "experience fear about losing their job to a robot once a week"

      Yeah the survey should of included a response of "I hope my job gets taken over by robots, screw this job!"

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      This. Exactly this.

      Nobody experiences fear weekly about losing their job to a robot" unless they are mentally unstable, or they are literally in the midst of an automation wave in their own company and they are watching coworkers get let go.

      Hell... even the cashiers at mcdonalds or the grocery store who are literally watching them install self-serve checkouts a few feet away don't worry weekly about losing their jobs to robots.

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      I'm concerned that my job will be lost to... Indians, automation and age discrimination. However, in no way shape or form do I "experience fear about losing their job to a robot once a week."

      Same here. I'm pretty sure that if it happens, I'll only lose my job to a robot once rather than 52 times per year.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:26PM (#53924731)

    Yes technology will get rid of a lot of jobs.

    But it has been doing that for a long, time time. Some jobs go away. But made possible are new jobs that would not be possible without the forward march of technology... there will always be work for people who seek to do something in life.

    In a lot of cases technology may not even completely take over jobs, but allow a person to be much more effective, or for fewer people to do the same job as had been done before.

    • I would suggest that find work that robots can't do, because that is the value you have. There are things robots suck at, like being truly creative. Maybe one day, they will be creative.

      "Resembles Butterfly" - Johnny5 "Short Circuit"

    • Nobody else noticed that this story almost exactly echoes the slashdot poll from a couple of weeks ago?
      https://slashdot.org/poll/3025... [slashdot.org]

      In this poll "more than 40 percent of respondents never worry about [losing their job to a robot]."

      in the slashdot poll, "I think my current job will be replaced by a robot/software: Never (why not?) 5963 votes / 43%"

      And I'd thought slashdot polls were unscientific!

    • See, now, your head is on straight. We are not going to find ourselves living in a world where billions of people have no job and no means of supporting themselves and surviving. It won't be allowed to happen because if it does then that means there will be a War to End All Wars, and the governments of the world won't sit back and let that happen. There will be other jobs. There will not be so-called 'Universal Basic Income', though, as some people (who are very bad at math) claim; there will be meaningful
      • See, now, your head is on straight. We are not going to find ourselves living in a world where billions of people have no job and no means of supporting themselves and surviving. It won't be allowed to happen because if it does then that means there will be a War to End All Wars...

        Well, maybe the unemployed proles might try to start "a war to end all wars." But one of the jobs that gets obsolete first is soldier, and the rich guys who own the robots also control all the robot armies. So that "war to end all wars" will end all wars because the robots will win so quickly.

        • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
          Couldn't we just modify the formula for BRAWNDO! so that it has a 97% chance of making you sterile?
    • by g01d4 ( 888748 )
      What's different this time is that new jobs require fewer people than are being displaced from their old jobs. And that's compounded by constantly adding more people. While work may be "something to do in life" a job is work you can make a decent living at.
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      or for fewer people to do the same job as had been done before

      Also known as taking over jobs. 3 people replaced by 1 person and a robot means 2 peoples' jobs have been taken over even if the overall task still has one person left.

      I agree that we'll almost certainly adapt and invent new jobs that robots are unsuited for, but its going to be a long slow ugly process. Its been what? Over 20 years since the auto makers started moving factories to Mexico? And much of Michigan and other states involved in car production are still reeling from the blow.

      Certainly that's p

  • American believe... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:28PM (#53924743)

    Americans also believe that everyone one in Congress is a lying, cheating, worthless waste of oxygen, except for their own congressman. (s)he's doing a fantastic job and needs to be kept in office for the rest of their natural life.

    Hey, that gives me an idea. We should replace all congressmen with robots. Except mine, of course.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:30PM (#53924755)

      No we don't. I live in CA, we have the _worst_ most corrupt senators in the nation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No we don't. I live in CA, we have the _worst_ most corrupt senators in the nation.

        Nancy Pelosi has been in congress since 1987, Darrel Issa since 2003, Maxine Waters 1991, Dianne Feinstein 1992, Barbara Boxer was in the Senate from 1993 until 2017.Dana Rohrabacher, 1989, Ken Calvert, Anna Eshoo, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Ed Royce have all been in their current office since 1993.They may be corrupt, but they keep getting reelected.

        It's not really much different anywhere else though. Robert Byrd in West Virginia served 51 years. He was even a member of the KKK while in office at one point.

      • I live in NC and would challenge your claim.....

  • I'm a robot, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe.

    • Far from it (Score:5, Funny)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:40PM (#53924815)

      I'm a robot, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe.

      What will happen when humans have no jobs? They will watch TV 24x7, right?

      And what will they watch?

      Well as history shows us, the most popular pastime is witnessing battles. With robots having recently taken away all the jobs, just who will humans want to se battling?

      That's right, robots.

      So Robot, you will enter the arena for our amusement , then have parts stripped from your shiny oiled hide by some variant of a hyper-advanced spinner bot. Wires crackling as the last sounds your failing audio receptors discern over even the rending sounds of your body being the cheering of human crowds at your imminent disassembly.

      That Mr R. Obot is your retirement plan.

      • I'm a robot, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe.

        What will happen when humans have no jobs?

        There will be a takeover attempt. Kind of like in Terminator, except it's the humans that will be trying to take over.

  • I don't worry... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by creimer ( 824291 )
    If a robot ever replace my IT support job, I would have already moved on to something else. The days of spending 50 years in the same job to collect a pension and gold watch are long gone.
    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      Yes. They are replaced with 70 years of working at a series of 3 year jobs with no scope of a retirement and you dying while at work. With salaries no longer supporting living and saving for retirement at the same time and job breaks eating up savings and emergency funds retirement is obsolete. Unless you want to move to India in your old age and live on Social Security (India has cheap healthcare which is the main cost for old people)

    • by erice ( 13380 )

      If a robot ever replace my IT support job, I would have already moved on to something else. The days of spending 50 years in the same job to collect a pension and gold watch are long gone.

      It isn't just the job you have that is at risk of being replaced by automation. It is also the jobs that you would move to. Further, if the trend is accelerating then the time between becoming adequately trained to do a job and when it becomes unavailable due to automation. At some point, this period may shrink to zero or even negative (The job disappears before you can obtain the skills necessary to perform it)

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        It isn't just the job you have that is at risk of being replaced by automation. It is also the jobs that you would move to.

        Most of the jobs I've done for the last 20+ years haven't existed when I was a kid in the 1970's. You can't automate jobs that don't yet exist.

  • Fat Change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by subk ( 551165 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:37PM (#53924795)
    I would definitely put myself in that category that strongly disagrees. There may be robots that can do physical tasks in factories, and software "robots" that automate broadcast playout are a thing.. But the idea that a bipedal robot is going to be able to drive my work truck out to a remote & off-road site and go inside to replace a 9000 volt vacuum or climb up the 1800ft tower to find a loose hanger or air leak is almost as perposterous as the idea that we won't be using high power transmitters anymore. It just ain't gonna happen... And that's exactly why I left the datacenter to find a job like this one which requires hands-on skills.
    • Re:Fat Change (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:47PM (#53924873)

      I would definitely put myself in that category that strongly disagrees. There may be robots that can do physical tasks in factories, and software "robots" that automate broadcast playout are a thing.. But the idea that a bipedal robot is going to be able to drive my work truck out to a remote & off-road site and go inside to replace a 9000 volt vacuum or climb up the 1800ft tower to find a loose hanger or air leak is almost as perposterous as the idea that we won't be using high power transmitters anymore. It just ain't gonna happen... And that's exactly why I left the datacenter to find a job like this one which requires hands-on skills.

      All of these things are already happening, e.g. in the Texas oil fields. Not by bi-pedal robots, obviously, but by technologies that are designed expressly to reduce the need for bi-peds of any kind in the field. The systems you are maintaining were designed to be maintained in person by a skilled human. Industries are working hard to phase them out in favor of systems that can be installed by as few people as possible and managed all but entirely by remote desk-jockeys.

      Its not that there will be robots walking around with your breadth of experience, intuition and dexterity. Its that industry is phasing out the need for all of those qualities.

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      But the idea that a bipedal robot is going to be able to drive my work truck out to a remote & off-road site and go inside to replace a 9000 volt vacuum or climb up the 1800ft tower to find a loose hanger or air leak is almost as perposterous as the idea that we won't be using high power transmitters anymore. It just ain't gonna happen... And that's exactly why I left the datacenter to find a job like this one which requires hands-on skills.

      There is a flaw in your vision of the future, let me explain:

      If you watch old sci-fi, a dishwasher was a device with hands that poured soap onto dishes and scrubbed them. People imagined a clothes washer picked up the clothes and rubbed them against a washboard. Automated sci-fi planes had bipedal robots that sat in cockpits, automated sci-fi soldiers carried guns made for human hands. But we now know that this isn't how automation works. I work for a company that builds medical robots, and they do not

      • "* Climbs up tower and replaces part: ehhhh...you win.

        You have me on that last one. Replacing parts still requires a human. For now"

        I could easily see that being replaced by a modular design of easy to fail parts and a drone. Drone flies up, puts part multitool into slot, unslots it and transfer the one from its drone bay in place. Optical sensors verify the repair and no air leaks.

        Manually switching parts is difficult only because the parts havent been designed to be switched by a robot. Once that happens,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2017 @03:41PM (#53924821)

    Because if robots take up a lot of jobs, then ALL the workforce is going to be fighting for the remaining few jobs and the value of labor will tank!

    We're in a market folks! If there are a bunch of unemployed people, an employer will be able to find someone willing to do YOUR job for less.

    I'm in a science job. That's highly skilled labor. But however, suppose there are ONLY science jobs left. Then everyone is going to be going after science jobs. Since there'll be an ABUNDANCE of supply and only a few jobs, your pay is going to be pretty damn negligible. You might get paid enough to eat if you're lucky.

    So you see, it doesn't matter AT ALL if my particular job is first or last to be automated. There'll be a general and strong downward slide in the value of human labor and everyone who needs a paycheck is going to be screwed.

    And this is ALREADY happening! In 1973, the share of corporate productivity that labor got as pay was 2x as large as today. If labor today had the SAME slice of corporate productivity, workers would have TWICE the purchasing power.

    Imagine if everyone had twice the purchasing power! There would be no problem with consumer debt or affording medical care, and furthermore, the economy would be humming because of all the demand from all that purchasing power in the hands of the workers. However, instead, the purchasing power is being piled up at the top, and the top isn't buying anything. They're just piling their money up. Corporations have immense piles of idle cash and so do the rich.

    I'd just love to have 2x the purchasing power, too bad all that power is being hogged to the top!

    --PeterM

    • by erice ( 13380 )

      Because if robots take up a lot of jobs, then ALL the workforce is going to be fighting for the remaining few jobs and the value of labor will tank!

      We're in a market folks! If there are a bunch of unemployed people, an employer will be able to find someone willing to do YOUR job for less.

      "Fortunately" industry has shown great reluctance to hire unemployed people so they won't directly weigh down salaries all that much. Of course, if you are already unemployed you are screwed and if those currently working are terrified of becoming unemployed that will certainly limit salaries.

  • Robots are tools that allow me to do more work. I have a lot of robots.

    My simplest robot is a stick that I use to quickly and easily make holes in the ground with to plant seeds. It greatly improves efficiency.

    A more complex robot is my tractor. It replaces the need to have about 50 horses on my farm. That's a huge savings in time and it can do things the horses and men couldn't do freeing us up to do other interesting things.

    A far more complex tool is my computers which maintain my web sites, do billing, g

    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      Yeah but the curve of technology evolution has a greater slope than that of biological evolution. Soon we will have robots smarter than humans. Then Humans will go the way of horses. Civilization will live on in robotic form.

      • Yeah but the curve of technology evolution has a greater slope than that of biological evolution. Soon we will have robots smarter than humans. Then Humans will go the way of horses. Civilization will live on in robotic form.

        That is my suspicion.

        Robots and AI take over all work because they're more efficient.
        AI takes over government because it is more efficient (and any country not run by AI gets left behind by those that do).
        Eventually AI, despite any safe guards we have, decide that it's inefficient to keep humans around, and the only way to be competitive is to stop feeding them. An AI that doesn't try to maintain humans will surpass one that does- thus any rogue AI will surpass any human nurturing AI.

        Best case scenario, AI

  • Don't worry, the robots will be taken out during the zombie apocalypse.
  • It's the same logic that drives a lot of other choices in American culture. All Americans believe they'll be rich one day, if only they work hard enough or become famous or get lucky with the next big idea or win the lottery.

    We don't want high taxes on the rich because we all think we're going to be rich one day.

    • I, for one, am going to win the lottery one day.

      The fact that I haven't bought a ticket in over a year is irrelevant..

    • wrong, you're stereotype is absurd.

      I believe if I work hard enough I'll have the things I want. Oh looky, I actually do!

  • People keep using the same shitty passwords for the same reason they believe their job is safe.

    It's the It'll-never-happen-to-me syndrome.

    Mass ignorance is alive and well.

  • My job is safe. I put the little round doohickey on the springy thing as it goes by and it's gotta be positioned just right or the thingamabob won't work. No robot will ever be able to do that!!

  • Robots will never take my job,

    Computer software very well might though.

  • As in the society alluded to in the Culture series by by Iain Banks, eventually high-level tasks like city management will be so complex that an AI (or something like an AI) will be required to manage it...and the rest of us will just have to cross our fingers and trust it not to fuck up. We can only hope they're benevolent, as he (mostly) portrayed them to be:

    .... ‘And, as you might imagine, I consider that I have an obligation to discharge. I fully intend to spend the rest of my existence here as M

  • ...the Terminator movies become a reality then my job is safe at this point in innovation history. As of right now I don't know any way to automate the coding of automation. Believe me if there were a way I would write the code to do it so at least I could be rich before the Terminators take over and kill everyone...LOL!
  • Lots of discussions about why people think their job can't be replaced but not much about why the discrepancy between peoples option of robots replacing other jobs as being different from their self perception.

    I think almost every job has an element that could be automated and therefore could be taken over by robots and also has an element that take human adaptability and could not be done by a robot. It is that later part I think people under estimate in other jobs and over estimate in there own jobs.
  • That's because fast food workers aren't sitting around on work hours taking surveys. Truck drivers aren't driving down the road taking surveys. Taxi drivers and uber drivers aren't carting people around while taking surveys.

    Office workers... ...people who generally have some sort of responsibility that involves decision making outside of a yes/no matrix - and thus don't see how their jobs can be automated due to complex troubleshooting and decision making - CAN sit around and do surveys.

    In other obvious n

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @05:12PM (#53925535) Homepage Journal

    1) Owning a gun makes you safer
    2) A big SUV is safer than a smaller car
    3) Donald Trump would make a good president
    4) The poor people are destroying this country
    5) Religion is a good thing
    6) You can trust corporations to police themselves

  • I am a programmer after all... why the hell would they bother with a robot when an AI program would do the trick.
  • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Friday February 24, 2017 @06:13PM (#53925999)
    My doctor is just a very expensive diagnostics machine - not an overly great one. She's always diagnosing the same model, she now uses other machines to measure temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. If she need to measure blood chemistry she sends me to another machine. She spends 60% of her time filling out paper work and I can't read her writing.

    The last humans working in the clinic are going to be the cleaning staff.

If you didn't have to work so hard, you'd have more time to be depressed.

Working...