4 predictions about the future of automation

Though some predictions about automation paint a bleak future, others offer a more optimistic outlook, predicting that technological innovations will create up to 21 million jobs.

Most Americans tend to agree with that more optimistic view of automation, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, Monica Anderson writes for the center's "Fact Tank" blog.

For the study, Pew researchers asked 4,135 participants several questions about automation generally, specific automation technologies, and their predictions for the future of automation over the next two decades.

Based on the survey, Anderson rounds up four predictions from respondents about how automation will change their lives.

Prediction 1: A bigger role for computers in health care

Americans predict that physicians will probably (58%) or definitely (21%) use computers more often to diagnose patients and treat diseases.

Prediction 2: Less human interaction in stores

Americans predict that most retail businesses will probably (52%) or definitely (13%) fully automate their stores.

Prediction 3: More drone deliveries

Americans predict that drones or robots will probably (53%) or definitely (12%) deliver most packages in major cities.

Prediction 4: Limited adoption of 3-D printing

Americans were more skeptical that people will use 3-D printing to make most of the objects they would otherwise have bought in a store. Most Americans say this probably (50%) or definitely (7%) won't become the norm (Anderson, "Fact Tank," Pew Research Center, 11/16; Anderson/Smith, "Fact Tank," Pew Research Center, 10/4).

Half of Millennials are interested in jobs likely to be replaced by robots

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