Americans think robots will take over human jobs (just not theirs)

Danielle Wiener-Bronner
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According to a new survey from The Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans expect that robots will take over most human jobs within the next 50 years. But they also think their jobs will be safe.


Pew spoke to 2,001 adults from June 10 to July 12 of 2015. Of those, 15% said they think robots and computers will definitely take over jobs in the next five decades, and 50% said this would probably be the case. But 36% of respondents said they think their jobs will definitely exist, for humans, in the same time-frame, and 44% said it probably will. Overall, just 11% of people said they were concerned of being replaced by a machine.

Younger, richer and more educated people fear the robot revolution less. Pew found that 35% respondents aged 18 to 49 think it's unlikely that human jobs will be displaced by robots. That figure drops to 27% among respondents 50 and older. Also, 37% of college-educated respondents and 38% of those with an annual household income of at least $75,000 think human jobs will remain intact. Only 28% of those who did not earn a college degree and 27% of those with an annual household income that's lower than $30,000 agree.

Opinions also differed according to the type of jobs respondents hold, in terms of the likelihood of a robot jobs revolution:

Pew Research Center

… and their immunity from it:

Pew Research Center

It's not surprising that survey respondents thought that while most jobs would be made irrelevant, their jobs would not: We have a tendency to overrate our intelligence, and to label ourselves as 'middle class' despite our actual wealth. Plus, Americans are bad at math.

So when the predicted robotic employment surge happens, we'll all be surprised.

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.

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