A study shows that those who live in countries with higher incomes and social inequality tend to perceive disruptive technologies such as AI in negative ways.
As we make our way towards a machine-driven cognitive revolution and the job market’s future has been covered in headlines that read ” robots are taking your job”.
According to an World Economic Forum report 85 million jobs in the world will be lost to robotics and automation. However, the latest technologies will generate 97 million new jobs that require higher levels of skill and education.
The disruption is causing lots of stress. For some, increased automation could mean the end of tedious and mind-numbing jobs. For others this rapid advancement spells the end of jobs.
A brand new study conducted by researchers from the University of Central Florida has discovered that people living in countries with higher levels of income and social inequality had a higher likelihood to view artificial intelligence and robots (AI) as threat.
The study focused on countries across Europe which was later published in Technology Brain and Behavior.
It was found that in countries such as those of the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland robots tend to be seen as positive than countries such as Greece and Spain where the income gap is more severe.
More than 13,000 people from 28 EU member states was collected from the survey conducted in 2017 by Eurobarometer public opinion poll which examined whether there was a link between the perception of workers about AI or robots as safety hazards, and the country’s level of inequality.
Researchers discovered a positive correlation between income inequality , based on an economic measure, known as the Gini index, as well as perceptions about the fact that AI and robots could pose a threat to the general loss of jobs.
Based on research in psychology on inequality, the authors of the study “anticipate that people living in more unequal societies will, on average, perceive robots and AI as greater workforce threats.”
They point out that even though the potential effects of AI/robots are a matter of fact but the main focus is what the public believes these new technology is capable of.
“None of this is happening in the next year or two,” writes tech journalist Sean Captain.
“The 5,10 or more years that it takes the robots’ capabilities to keep pace to terms of capability and number offer an opportunity for both the current and the next generation of workforce to acquire advanced skills that go beyond what machines are able to do. They could also make them more money with more exciting work. Instead of losing job to machines, robots could simply substitute for jobs that people no would ever want to do.”
The study’s concentration was on European countries co-author Mindy Shoss who is a professor at the UCF’s Department of Psychology, says that the results could help know the situation in the US too.
“The US always ranks pretty high on inequality and societal inequality,” Shoss declared. “Given that, I would suspect that there probably are, on average, similar negative views of AI and robot technology in the US.”
Shoss claimed that in societies with high inequality, there is a greater disparity between income, health and education. In addition, there is greater focus on the mobility of people in society which can lead to fear and anxiety about earnings, status, and job security.
“Countries that have more people in unequal standing, on average, tend to see these technologies more as a threat,” she explained.
Shoss further stated that according to the findings of the study inequality must be taken in the process of developing and implementing technology, and also focusing on the ways that technology can increase income or jobs in order to boost the acceptance of technology by the public.