7 in 10 Singaporeans believe robots will take jobs away from many of us

October 31, 2017, 11:42 AM GMT+0

New YouGov research reveals 43% of 18-29 year olds believe a robot could do their job at least as well as them

Visions of a utopic society, where robots do all the work while humans enjoy all the leisure, have largely come and gone. Developments in genetics, artificial intelligence and robotics mean that robots could instead destroy livelihoods across vast swathes of the population, with recent research suggesting that about 45% of the activities people are paid to do could be automated over the next few decades.

However, new data from YouGov Omnibus suggest that Singaporeans are cautiously optimistic about the impact of robots on society. Overall, three-quarters of Singaporeans believe that robots will make our lives easier and 8 in 10 agree that robots can do things humans don’t want to do.

Nearly 9 in 10 would like a robot to do their cleaning

Most Singaporeans are happy to welcome robots into their lives, with just 1 in 20 saying they would not want a robot.

Out of a list of twelve possible functions, the most popular desired use for a robot is to help with cleaning the house, which nearly 9 in 10 would want. Other popular choices include assistance at work (selected by 60%) and security (chosen by 57% of respondents).

Women and men appear to be in broad agreement about the use of robots for household chores such as cleaning the house and gardening. However, they are divided about the use of robots for tasks such as security (65% of men would want a robot for security, compared with 49% of women), assistance at work (64% of men to 56% of women) and managing finances (24% of men to 16% of women).

1 in 10 believe a robot would do their job better than them

Despite being able to see the benefits that robots could bring, Singaporeans also recognise the threat they pose to people’s employment prospects; 7 in 10 Singaporeans agree that robots will take jobs away from many of us. However, many do not currently feel personally threatened by robots in the workplace, with only 1 in 10 believing that a robot would be better than them at their job.

Those under 30 are more likely to think that a robot could do their job at least as well as them. 43% of 18-29 year olds believe a robot could do their job either the same as or better than them. This is true for 37% of those aged 30+.

With robots set to shake up our economy there is certainly a challenge ahead. 8 in 10 Singaporeans agree that robots should be regulated carefully, suggesting that regulators will have to forge a new and difficult path that seeks to maximise the benefits of new technology without taking away citizens’ opportunities and/or income.

*Data was collected online between 11 and 28 September 2017 using YouGov’s panel of over 5 million people worldwide. It was weighted to be representative of the online population. Sample size: 1,038

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