Most Americans would favor policies to limit job and wage losses caused by automation

Source: Pew Research Center

Americans are apprehensive about a future in which machines take on more of the work now done by humans, and most are supportive of policies aimed at cushioning the economic impact of widespread automation, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The vast majority of Americans (85%) say they would support restricting workforce automation to jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans to do, including 47% who support the idea strongly, according to the survey, conducted May 1-15 among 4,135 U.S. adults. A smaller majority (62%) would favor giving consumers the option to pay extra to interact with a human, rather than a robot or computer, when purchasing products or services.

Most Americans also see a policy role for the federal government, specifically. Six-in-ten say they would favor a federal policy that would provide a guaranteed income for all citizens to meet basic needs if robots and computers become capable of doing many jobs now done by humans. And 58% say they would support a federal service program that would pay people to do tasks even if machines are able do the work faster and more cheaply.

More broadly, a majority of Americans (58%) say there should be limits on the number of jobs that businesses can replace with machines, even if those machines are better and cheaper. Fewer respondents (41%) took the opposite view that businesses are justified in replacing human workers, even if machines can do the work better and at a lower cost.

 

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