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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Nearly two-thirds of Americans expect humans to struggle finding work in a future of robots — all humans except themselves, that is. According to a study released today by Pew Research, they worry far less about losing their own jobs to automation.

Why it matters: The study confirms prior research that, despite the knowledge that a powerful new technological force is gathering momentum, Americans remain unperturbed about their own well-being, leaving themselves potentially vulnerable to personal financial crisis.

"For many people, this isn't real until it actually happens to them," Pew's Aaron Smith, who led the project, told Axios. What they have yet to recognize is that "it's not just something that's going to happen to fast food workers and insurance clerks," he said, but to people just like themselves.

What the studies say: The Pew report is a followup to a study it issued last year with similar findings. Likewise, a survey last month by Bloomberg Beta, a venture capital firm, found that just 12% of Americans worry about losing their job to automation. The surveys spring in large part from much-discussed 2013 research from Oxford University that said 47% of American jobs are at risk of automation by 2033.

The bottom line: Numerous experts challenge such pessimism, but regardless of what anyone thinks, there is very little dispute that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. The only questions are whether they will find new work, and if so, how long it will take. Should dislocation occur on the scale some forecasters project, experts fear social chaos. "Some people will be taken by surprise, and nothing leads to instability more than frustrated expectations," Bloomberg Beta's Roy Bahat told Axios.

According to Pew, here are the percentage of Americans who think robots will replace ...

  • Fast food workers - 77%
  • Insurance claims processors - 65%
  • Software engineers - 53%
  • Legal clerks - 50%
  • Teachers - 36%
  • Their own jobs - 30%
  • Nurses - 20%

Other takeaways from the latest Pew study:

  • Paying attention: About 94% had heard of efforts to develop driverless vehicles, and 85% know that machines could take many jobs one day.
  • Partisan solutions: Democrats were far more likely to support universal income (77% to 38% Republicans) and a national service program (66% to 46%) if machines take over a substantial number of jobs. Regardless of party affiliation, the majority of respondents (85%) favored using robots for dirty or dangerous jobs, and comparable numbers of Republicans and Democrats (60% to 54%) support limiting the number of jobs that can be replaced with machines.
  • Common people vs. driverless experts: 30% said they believe driverless cars will lead to more, not fewer, deaths in accidents, a repudiation of reports that autonomous vehicles will save millions of lives. And a whopping 87% want a human in the driver's seat in case of an emergency.
  • Faith in humanity: in terms of artificial intelligence trained to hire employees, 57% felt better about an algorithm that still involved a human interview. Indeed, Smith said, whether it's "decision making, or creativity, or compassion in the case of robot caregivers, or the ability to assess other human beings in the case of hiring algorithms ..., the value people place on human brains at the expense of machines clearly was one of the overwhelming themes that came through all of this."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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