No rage against the machines: Threat of automation does not change policy preferences

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Labor-saving technology has already decreased employment opportunities for middle-skill workers. Experts anticipate that advances in AI and robotics will cause even more significant disruptions in the labor market over the next two decades. This paper presents three experimental studies that investigate how this profound economic change could affect mass politics. Recent observational studies suggest that workers' exposure to automation risk predicts their support not only for redistribution but also for right-wing populist policies and candidates. Other observational studies, including my own, find that workers underestimate the impact of automation on their job security. Misdirected blame towards immigrants and workers in foreign countries, rather than concerns about workplace automation, could be driving support for right-wing populism. To correct American workers' beliefs about the threats to their jobs, I conducted three survey experiments in which I informed workers about the existent and future impact of workplace automation. While these informational treatments convinced workers that automation threatens American jobs, they failed to change respondents' preferences on welfare, immigration, and trade policies. My research finds that raising awareness about workplace automation did not decrease opposition to globalization or increase support for policies that will prepare workers for future technological disruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIES 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages856-866
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450392471
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 26 2022
Externally publishedYes
Event5th AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society, AIES 2022 - Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: Aug 1 2022Aug 3 2022

Publication series

NameAIES 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society

Conference

Conference5th AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society, AIES 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityOxford
Period8/1/228/3/22

Keywords

  • artificial intelligence and the future of work
  • automation
  • political economy
  • public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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