39% of Irish adults are worried about robots or artificial intelligence (AI) replacing their jobs, according to a new survey commissioned by Lero, the SFI Irish Software Research Centre. And concerns rise to one in two (49%) adults aged between 18 and 34.
The survey of 1,038 adults was conducted for Lero by RED C Research in June 2018.
Of those worried about their jobs being taken over, 11% believe that this will occur within the next five years. 25% expect it to happen within the next six to ten years. One in three anticipate that the robotic arm on the shoulder will occur within the next 11-15 years.
“This is not an unfounded fear,” commented Professor Brian Fitzgerald, director of Lero, the SFI Irish Software Research Centre. “People are not stupid and have observed how artificial intelligence and machines have replaced bank staff and supermarket checkout operators.
“However, technology will create new jobs.” He referenced a recent survey by KPMG which found that 96% of Irish CEOs believe that Artificial Intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys.
“However, the big challenge for Irish education is to prepare our young people to develop the skills and retrain existing workers for jobs of the future. This is particularly challenging as in many cases we don’t know today what these jobs will be.”
While many have concerns over robots replacing their jobs, the Lero study finds that the Irish are divided on whether robotics will safely replace drivers over the next 15 years. 37% believe that self-driving cars will be safer but a similar number (39%) believe that software-controlled vehicles will be less safe.
The Lero report finds that just over a quarter of the population (26%) work from home at least occasionally. This rises to over a third (38%) amongst those aged 25-34.
“Home working is likely to increase because of the high cost of housing, especially in the main cities and resulting in long commutes for many,” commented Professor Fitzgerald. “It is perhaps no coincidence that home working is above the national average amongst Rest of Leinster residents (32%).
“At a time of rising labour shortages, it may well be that employers who can offer the facility to work from home at least occasionally will be better able to attract employees. Software is a core enabler of this better work-life balance.”
There is generally high awareness amongst the public of the pervasiveness of software today from traffic lights (73%) to air travel (86%). However, just over half believe that there is software involved in washing machines (55%) or pacemakers (54%).
“People are generally aware that today we are dependent on software for almost every area of our lives,” commented Professor Fitzgerald. “As a result, the survey finds that nearly three-quarters of people are worried about software systems failures.”
When it comes to awareness of cryptocurrency technology, 61% have heard of the term. Nine out of ten (89%) have heard of Bitcoin. However, just over one in five (22%) have heard of the term “blockchain” technology which is how Bitcoin transactions are managed.