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UK Insights

83% of UK believe smart AI will eventually replace humans at work

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Digital 19.04.2018 / 08:19

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The latest Lightspeed research uncovers how we feel about technological advancements, and how they may be impact our lives.

Artificial intelligence (AI), robots, automation and machine learning are concepts that are appearing more frequently in mainstream media as the technology behind them is constantly improved. But do people in the UK see these making a real difference to how they live their lives?

Let the machines do the heavy lifting

According to a survey this week by Lightspeed, 83% of UK adults believe that AI will one day be smart enough to take over from humans in many types of job, with 27% of respondents claiming this day will come ‘in my lifetime.’ 44% said it wouldn’t happen in their lifetime, and just 13% thought it would ‘never happen’.



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Will machines take over from real people in manufacturing and industry? 90% in the UK say yes, and for 23% it is something we should expect ‘in the near future’.



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With Brexit (and a drop in the cost of robots), it’s hardly surprising that so many people see this scenario on the horizon. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was saying just this week how ‘routine cognitive jobs’ were at risk from technology, automation and machines. However, only 32% of respondents rated this as one of the top three things that would have the biggest impact on their lives, if it came into existence. 

Worrying developments?

The Lightspeed survey also asked all respondents if they were concerned about AI making decisions instead of humans – 40% said they were extremely concerned, or a ‘fair amount’, with 47% saying they were slightly concerned. Just 14% said they were not at all concerned about the potential for unfair choices being made by machines.



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What does concern people is losing their jobs. Respondents were also asked ‘As more and more jobs are taken by machines, what is closest to you view on the consequences of mass automation?’ 56% said it would lead to poverty; just 12% thought it would be an ‘opportunity’ for us to enjoy more leisure time and 32% thought it would create new jobs or have no impact on the workforce.



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However, the fear around job loss seems to be general rather than specific. When asked ‘What do you think is the risk of your job being taken by a machine in the next 10 years?’, only 15% thought the chance was ‘quite high’ or ‘high’.



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Younger people were more likely to predict poverty as the outcome of mass automation, and were generally more concerned that their job would be taken by a machine, as shown in the charts below.



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Source : Lightspeed

Editor's Notes

Lightspeed surveyed 1523 people in the UK on 12 possible future technologies. Where respondents were asked to select a 'top three', only technologies that they had previously said might happen (soon, in their lifetime, or one day) were displayed. Discover what they thought about downloading memories and living forever here.

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