The 'Robot Fear Index' Tracks Society's Panic Over Robots

Friday, 27 January 2017 - 9:25PM
Robotics
Friday, 27 January 2017 - 9:25PM
The 'Robot Fear Index' Tracks Society's Panic Over Robots

While the Doomsday Clock is currently ticking at two and a half minutes to midnight, fears are rising over a new type of doomsday which may be even closer. So says the "Robot Fear Index," a scale from 0-100 which represents how people in the U.S. feel about all things related to robotics and artificial intelligence.

Loup Intelligence, the venture capital firm behind this project, used surveys of over 500 American consumers to generate their initial score, and it comes to a total of 31.5 out of 100, according to Investor's Business Daily. Which means we're not actively preparing for any robot takeover, but it's something in the back of a lot of our heads.

"We developed our Robot Fear Index to measure and track the average consumer's perception of robots," says Andrew Murphy, Loup Ventures managing partner. A score of 100 means "widespread and extreme fear of robots," while 0 means nobody is that concerned about the machines. He continues:

Opening quote
There are two sides of the coin driving consumer perception of robotics: adoption of the more accessible and convenient technologies leveraging AI and robotics on one side, and uncertainty of what may be in store as AI and robotics replaces an increasing set of human work.
Closing quote


According to Murphy, 64% of Americans have a digital assistant, and the same number have used some form of robotic technology over the past 3 months. 16% have used robotic technology i.e. a Roomba, and 15% have used a robotic toy. 14% of people admit that robots make them nervous, and a whopping 46% say that they have no interest in artificial intelligence, robotics, or any other kind of future technology. 

The rating of 31.5 means that we're "cautiously comfortable with robots," and Murphy agrees we have a lot to be cautious about. "We fear that they'll replace our jobs or somehow overthrow us; and to be blunt, those fears are valid," the managing partner explains. While not everyone's view is so bleak, Murphy does make a fair point - robots have been on the rise, even replacing workers entirely at a Japanese office.

Knowing that Murphy's view is somewhat radical, it would be interesting to get a copy of the survey used to check for priming or other biases, or even just to take it ourselves and see where we square up in relation to the rating. Until the survey is publicly released, we'll just have to rely on the index, which Murphy says will be regularly updated as they "track the progress of the robotics theme."

Image: Kai Schreiber/Flickr

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