AI changes to worksites divide workers

AI changes to worksites divide workers

The safety of job sites with the presence of AI has been revealed as a major concern of workers. A new survey by Volvo Construction Equipment showed that half of workers believe safety could be put at risk by the technology, while 30% believe that automation will work to improve site safety.

Workplace safety was the number one concern for respondents, ahead of job security, which was only a concern for 31% of respondents. Other concerns include loss of sociability (26 per cent) and not knowing who to blame if something goes wrong (17 per cent).

While the report revealed plenty of concerns, more than half of the participants believe that autonomous machines and AI will boost productivity, and just under half indicated that they believe advanced technology will be helpful and increase the speed of everyday construction tasks.

Younger workers and those with greater exposure to technology were unsurprisingly the most receptive to autonomous tech. Respondents aged between 25 and 44 are more likely to think autonomous machinery could be a benefit in areas such as productivity, speed, safety, quality and fuel efficiency compared to those aged 44 and over.

In regards to job safety, the perception is that machine operators will be most at risk, with two thirds of respondents indicating they believed their job would be completely redundant following significant advances in computer technology. This concern was shared by engineers, considered the second most at-risk, followed by bricklayers and construction managers. Only one in five construction workers believe no jobs will be affected at all.

Other key findings include:

  • 58 percent of construction workers are confident that AI would not do a better job than them
  • 55 percent agree that they would rather lose their job to a human than a machine
  • 72 percent of US respondents agree that they would consider choosing a job that will not be affected by autonomous machinery or AI, compared to 45 percent of UK respondents

Volvo Group Automation Specialist Christian Grante said embracing and encouraging innovation was the key to surviving, and seeing advantageous outcomes in the coming age of automation.

“We believe our focus on technologies such as automation is exactly what allows us to make the construction industry safer. Our research into this area has shown that autonomous systems really can improve safety and productivity for our customers. And with more machines working in collaboration with humans, rather than being controlled by them, this will only increase further.”

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