Artificial intelligence and automation are often seen as a threat to workers but that attitude isn’t universal according to new data from SEEK. Although a small number of workers are still in the dark when it comes to automation many see it as a potential benefit although there are some interesting differences between different demographic groups.
SEEK’s data which comes from independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK who interviewed 4,800 Australians, paints an interesting picture. Fewer than one in four workers feel that they know a lot about AI and automation although there is a reasonably solid level of understanding with over three-quarters saying they know “quite a bit” or more about AI or automaton. There is no clear difference in knowledge by age.
SEEK suggests that there is a correlation between knowledge about automation and AI and whether respondents liked these emerging technologies. Male candidates claim to know more about AI and automation with just 23% of males saying they were uneasy with the technologies while the discomfort level rose to 42% of females saying they are uneasy with the impact of AI on their job and working environment. Half the male respondents are comfortable with the impact of automation on their job and working environment compared to 35% of women.
Looking at the data by age, candidates aged 45-54 years old were less positive than others that AI and automation would resulted in reduced stress but the 18-24 year old demographic was more positive than other age groups about AI and automation increasing job satisfaction. That group also was more negative about AI and automation saying this technology will make it harder to find a job. Interestingly, those aged 55-64 years old were more positive than other age groups about AI and automation creating more job opportunities.
The automation of jobs is not new and has always been accompanied by both direct and incorrect impacts. It is inevitable that as more tasks are automated that the nature of what we do will change. But we’ve also seen new roles emerge. The challenge isn’t likely to be in maintaining the overall number of jobs but in the nature of those jobs. And that means significant change for many people. When a task we used to do is automated we need to move to a different task and that change can be challenging for many people.
What this data shows is that by understanding more about AI and automation, the level of fear, uncertainty and doubt faced by workers can be mitigated and managed. In my view, once people move rom a defensive mindset, they are better equipped to look ahead at the opportunities ahead of them rather than what they used to have.