Pew Research Center

Pew study experts: Artificial intelligence threatens the future of capitalism

A Pew Research Foundation study examining the future of work and job training found a belief among some experts that artificial intelligence and automation threaten not just millions of jobs, but also the future of capitalism.

Released Wednesday, the non-scientific study titled “The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training” is the seventh in an eight-part “Future of the Internet” study being conducted by the Pew Research Center and Elon University. More than 1,400 AI researchers, tech experts, professors, startup CEOs, and members of the general public responded to the survey.

Respondents include leaders from companies like Google and Microsoft and educators from MIT, Harvard, and other universities, as well as a mix of other people interested in AI and the future of work. Tech experts include computer scientists and AI researchers but also people from internet governance groups, futurists, and startup founders.

“People will create the jobs of the future, not simply train for them, and technology is already central,” said a Microsoft principal researcher. “It will undoubtedly play a greater role in the years ahead.”

Not everyone was so optimistic. Several respondents questioned the point of training for a job that won’t exist at all in the future.

“While the first three themes found among the responses to this canvassing were mostly hopeful about advances in education and training for 21st-century jobs, a large share of responses from top experts reflect a significant degree of pessimism for various reasons. Some even say the future of jobs for humans is so baleful that capitalism may fail as an economic system,” the Pew report reads.

The report states that most of the people who commented on capitalism in the survey chose to remain anonymous, but a few put their names to their thoughts.

For example, Mike Warot, a machinist at Allied Gear, said, “We’re going to have to end up with a Basic Income, or revolution.”

Miles Fidelman is a systems architect and policy analyst at the Protocol Technologies Group.

“The trend is pretty clear. We will need less ‘workers’ in the future,” he said. “For a long time, science fiction presented us with visions of a world where machines did all the work and people enjoyed leisure, artistic pursuits, etc. These days, a more dystopian reality is emerging — where a few party, a few more do a lot of work, and growing numbers search for work. We’re going to need a fundamental reshaping of our economy, not training people for jobs that are simply not going to be there.”

Training for jobs of the future

A primary question in the survey was “In the next 10 years, do you think we will see the emergence of new educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future?”

About 70 percent of survey participants said they believe education and training programs will successfully prepare people for jobs of the future, but many respondents also believe education will not be sufficient to meet people’s needs within the next decade, as automation and AI are expected to claim more human jobs.

Respondents were also asked things like “What skills will future workers need?” and “Which skills can and cannot be taught online?”

A mid-2015 Pew Research survey found that about two-thirds of U.S. citizens believe that within 50 years robots and automation will do the majority of the work done by humans today, though 80 percent of respondents said they expected their job to exist in the same period of time.

In written responses, survey respondents collectively articulated five major themes and predictions:

  • The training ecosystem will evolve, with a mix of innovation in all education formats
  • Learners must cultivate 21st century skills, capabilities, and attributes
  • New credentialing systems will arise as self-directed learning expands
  • Training and learning systems will not meet 21st century needs by 2026
  • Jobs? What jobs? Technological forces…

Study Contends There Are Twice as Many Atheists in America as Polls Show

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The mayor of San Antonio, Ivy Taylor, made headlines recently during a mayoral candidate forum. She was asked about systemic generational poverty in her city and what she thought caused it. Mayor Taylor replied, “To me, it’s broken people…people not being in a relationship with their Creator.” Basically it was godlessness which caused poverty, in her view. Whether this was a deflection or her actual belief isn’t clear. But that she thought this would be an acceptable answer tells us something about how agnostics, atheists, and those questioning faith, are regarded in American society.

Another controversy in a similar vein, was when the Pope spoke out, saying it is better to be a good atheist than a “fake” Christian. This emphasizes Catholicism’s focus on good works as the path to salvation over pure faith, as Protestants believe. Christianity is the largest world religion, followed by Islam which is growing, but not as fast as the third place contestant, no religion, the fastest growing faith category in the world. Around 7% of the global population is atheist and if we include the non-religious, it’s 16.5%.

A recent Gallup Poll suggests one in 10 Americans don’t believe in God, a small but significant milestone. Over one-third of millennials polled were religiously unaffiliated. On another front, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who identify as Christian dropped 8% between 2007 and 2014.

Oxford professor Richard Dawkins

Oxford professor Richard Dawkins is well-known for his non-belief. On this side of the pond, two researchers say, there’s a stigma against atheism. Getty Images.

No religious affiliation or “nones,” are the second largest faith category in North America today. They’ve been growing steadily for decades now. About 25% of the entire US population are among the unaffiliated. While in the past several years, the number of atheists has doubled. Most are white, male, and highly educated. 56% are politically liberal. People of color, women, and the less educated tend to be more religious.

Some experts say there are even more atheists that aren’t accounted for. A recent study at the University of Kentucky finds a lot of what they call “closet atheists.” Researchers Will Gervais and Maxine Najle say there’s a lot of stigma surrounding atheism. Several polls have shown that people find atheists less trustworthy, even immoral. As a result, many lie to the pollster because they feel…

This App Helps You Read a More Diverse Range of Political News

As the political landscape becomes more polarized, our media landscape does, too. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that for the first time in 15 years, the majority of Americans in each political party express “very unfavorable” views of members of the opposing party. In 2014, Pew also found that people with different political affiliations have reading habits distinct from each other: Conservatives overwhelmingly watch Fox News for their political news; liberals tend to listen to NPR or watch MSNBC instead.

In an effort to help voters all across the political spectrum understand each other (and hopefully find common ground), a new iPhone app is making it easier to break out of your media silo and find more diverse perspectives in the news. Read Across the Aisle promises to shake up your media habits just a little by suggesting alternate sources, as Nieman Lab reports.

The app tracks what you’re reading from 20 curated news sources across the…