Europeans are anxious about technological change and want governments to take action, according to a new report by the Centre for the Governance of Change, which surveyed citizens of eight European countries: France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, and the UK.
Over two-thirds of Europeans of all ages believe that, if not appropriately controlled, new technologies will cause more harm than good to society in the coming decade. This belief is, in turn, leading to a growing resistance to innovation and to a general demand for more regulation.
The vast majority of Europeans surveyed expect their governments to set new laws and taxes to limit automation and prevent job displacement, even if that means stopping technological progress. These results are consistent across countries, age groups, genders and ideological tendencies. Also refected however is a growing disillusionment with the political class by the number of individuals who would rather have an AI make policy decisions than politicians.
This highlights the paradox in which we live: people are disillusioned with governments, yet at the same time ask them to tackle the societal and economic negative effects that emerging technologies might have.
Perhaps unexpectedly, Europeans are not only worried about the challenges they will face on the job market, but also about what this will mean for their social lives: over two-thirds of Europeans find it concerning that people will spend more time socializing online than in person in the future.
The data also suggest that people not only worry about the incoming technological transition, but also feel that the institutions tasked with making this process manageable are failing. Most of the people surveyed feel that the educational system is not training them to tackle the challenges brought about by new technologies. This is particularly true for older university graduates who find themselves rudderless in a fast-changing job market. Moreover, they also feel that the companies they work for are not adapting correctly to the new scenario and are likely to disappear in the next ten years.