A new survey of how eight European countries including the United Kingdom asked some real questions about how citizens feel about automation, artificial intelligence and how governments should deal with them.
The findings confirm that there is growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty among modern citizens.
Over two thirds of Europeans of all ages believe that, if not appropriately controlled, new technologies will cause more harm than good to society in the coming decade.https://www.ie.edu/cgc/research/tech-opinion-poll-2019/
The vast majority of Europeans surveyed expect their governments to set new laws and taxes to limit automation and prevent job displacement, even if that means stopping technological progress.
This result is consistent across all countries, age groupings, genders and ideological views.
People are not only worried about finding a new job, but also what this means for their social lives – with growing fears that most people are beginning to spend more time socialising online rather than in person.
There is specific concern around the educational system not providing enough training to address the challenges arising from the new technologies. How does one adapt to a work where 70% of existing jobs will be automated within 15 years? Not everyone will be a Youtuber or CEO.
This seems to be more true for older graduates who find themselves being dropped out of roles and chasing new ones almost every other year. The job market is churning, and many people are realizing that companies they work for aren’t adapting to the new reality and will likely disappear with the next 10 years.
Surprisingly, while AI is seen as removing jobs, and reshaping society, people across the board trust it way more than politicians to make policy decisions.
There has been a significant loss of trust in the political elites recently – and the UK is perhaps the prime example of this with Brexit. More interestingly factors like gender and ideology don’t affect people’s willingness to let AI make policy decisions.
This leads to the awkward question of how much of actual decision making should be made by AI: after all can’t it navigate a way through complexities such as Brexit? The underlying game theory of the scenario is proven ground for AI, and while it may be taboo to suggest it – perhaps politicians have had their day – and know it.
The numbers strongly indicate that economic and social considerations are foremost when considering the impact of technology. Would an AI really have taken three whole years to find a ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ and then have to ask for an extension?
Could we not have simulated the potential outcomes and de-risked No Deal Brexit significantly better with AI policy making, and avoided many of the fiascos along the way? Perhaps we should listen to the people – who see AI as a safety belt. One that saves the people from politicians driving drunk on their own narratives.