An increasing number of tasks that were once performed by humans are now performed by machines. Automation is no longer confined to factories and warehouses, but we now encounter automation in many areas of our everyday lives. Is this good? Is it bad? What does the world think about this increase in automation?
The love-hate relationship between man and machine
Individually, there are mixed receptions about automation. Some love seeing machines perform the tasks that used to require a human hand, while others view this increase in automation with uncertainty and trepidation.
Throw a dart at a map of the world and you’re likely to find people who will advocate for an increase in automation and those who fear that automation does more harm than good.
A survey from the Pew Research Center can help quantify what different parts of the world think about automation, however.
Opinions of automation vary greatly by country
The Pew survey included response from 20 different countries across Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Almost half of the respondents (48%) said that “using robots to automate many jobs humans have done in the past” was a “good thing”. On the other side of the aisle, 42% said that an increase in automation has a negative impact on society.
While opinions about automation were mostly positive overall, some countries have a more positive view of automating tasks than others.
Asia-Pacific countries generally view increased automation as a good thing.
- Over 60% of the respondents in more than half of the Asian-Pacific countries had a positive view of automation.
- However, Malaysia and Australia were exceptions with more respondents saying automation was a bad thing more than a good thing in both countries.
European countries had mixed feelings about machines.
- Almost half of the countries in Europe had a close divide over whether automation was good or bad.
- Sweden had an overwhelmingly positive view of automation with 66% saying it’s a good thing and just 21% saying it’s a bad thing.
- However, two of the countries — France and Spain — had more respondents say that automation is a bad thing than a good thing.
American countries had a more negative opinion of automation than most of the world.
- Brazil had the most negative view of automation. 64% said that an increase in automation is a bad thing, and only 29% view automation favorably.
- The U.S. also had a negative view of automation. 50% said automation is harmful and 41% said it is positive.
- Canada was the only American country with a positive view of automation.
Good or bad, automation is here to stay
Feelings about automation don’t change the fact that machines are essential for modern manufacturing. We will continue to see automation used to complete more tasks as technology improves.
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