Two-thirds of Malaysians believe robots will take jobs away from many of us

Two-thirds of Malaysians believe robots will take jobs away from many of us
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New YouGov research reveals 45% 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 Malaysians are cautiously optimistic about the impact of robots on society. Overall, 7 in 10 Malaysians believe that robots will make our lives easier and 62% agree that robots can do things humans don’t want to do.

 

8 in 10 would like a robot to do their cleaning

Most Malaysians 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 use for a robot is to help with cleaning the house, which 8 in 10 would want. Other popular choices include security (chosen by 65% of respondents) and assistance at work (selected by 53%).

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 more divided about the use of robots for tasks such as security (70% of men would want a robot for security, whereas 60% of women do) and assistance at work (58% of men would want to robot to assist with them at work, while 49% of women would want the same).

 

Almost 1 in 7 believe a robot would do their job better than them

Despite being able to see the benefits that robots could bring, Malaysians also recognise the threat they pose to people’s employment prospects; two-thirds of Malaysians 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 7 believing that a robot would be better than them at their job.

Younger generations are less certain of their place at work. While 40% of those aged 18-29 think that a robot would not be better them at their job, 59% of those over 45 do. Those under 45 are also more likely to think that a robot could do their job at least as well as them. 45% of 18-29 year olds believe a robot could do their job either the same as or better than them. This is true for 39% of 30-44 year olds but just 34% of over 45s.

With robots set to shake up our economy there is certainly a challenge ahead. Almost eight in ten Malaysians 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 reducing 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: (n = Malaysia: 1,058)

Photo source: Getty Image