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Expert and Non-expert Opinion About Technological Unemployment

  • Toby Walsh
Perspective

Abstract

There is significant concern that technological advances, especially in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), could lead to high levels of unemployment in the coming decades. Studies have estimated that around half of all current jobs are at risk of automation. To look into this issue in more depth, we surveyed experts in robotics and AI about the risk, and compared their views with those of non-experts. Whilst the experts predicted a significant number of occupations were at risk of automation in the next two decades, they were more cautious than people outside the field in predicting occupations at risk. Their predictions were consistent with their estimates for when computers might be expected to reach human level performance across a wide range of skills. These estimates were typically decades later than those of the non-experts. Technological barriers may therefore provide society with more time to prepare for an automated future than the public fear. In addition, public expectations may need to be dampened about the speed of progress to be expected in robotics and AI.

Keywords

Survey technological unemployment artificial intelligence (AI) 

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Notes

Acknolwdgements

This work was support by the Australian Research Council, the European Research Council, and the Asian Office of Aerospace Research & Development.

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Copyright information

© Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Data61, Locked Bag 6016UNSWKensington, SydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Technical University of BerlinBerlinGermany

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