Last week Sky embarked on its “robotic revolution” series, resulting in an expansive variety of written and filmed content, all of which was underpinned by a robot-related survey of over 1,000 UK citizens from all parts of the country.
The poll revealed that roughly 30 per cent of the UK population is concerned that their jobs could be replaced by robots within the next 20 years. Almost twice as many did not share this fear, with Conservative voters unsurprisingly showing the lowest levels of concern.
53 per cent of those surveyed believed that the UK will rely on AI and robotics in order to function by 2035. The majority (62 per cent) also thought that the government should protect human workers from being replaced by robots; meanwhile artificially intelligent beings with intelligence equivalent to that of humans were not considered worthy of having their rights protected by the law, being trusted with child supervision, or capable of providing satisfactory long term emotional or sexual relationships.
Ultimately the survey unveiled mixed levels of suspicion and concern – despite the above, 43 per cent of respondents still agreed that intelligent computers could one day threaten the existence of the human race, while just 34 per cent disagreed.
Sky’s own research offered more mixed messages. Studies have shown that, so far, automation has served to boost worker wages and productivity rather than replace jobs. However, that is most likely because the robotic automation currently in place is, for the most part, unintelligent.
It is thought that more advanced technologies could eventually displace a whopping 35 per cent of UK jobs (including middle-skilled work as well as low-skilled). High risk roles include those in office and administrative support, sales and services, transportation, production and construction.
In the meantime, Britain’s knowledge workers are doing what they can to co-exist with their new automatic counterparts. A few companies have gone further than others when it comes to robotic integration – one example is Xchanging, where employees have been encouraged to name their robotic coworkers and even invite them along to office parties.
Despite this example of exceptional open-mindedness, the results to Sky’s survey strongly suggest that the rest of the UK’s citizens might not be quite as welcoming if and when intelligent robots start to join them at their workplaces.