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Survey says: We’d rather let robots cook than drive

More people would be comfortable letting robots service cars than drive them, a new survey shows. And fully half of those surveyed would be fine with a robot chef or personal trainer.

The survey by Study.com, a web site that offers online instruction for college courses, queried 1031 Americans aged 18 and over about which of a range of tasks they’d entrust to a robot powered by artificial intelligence.

Unsurprisingly, the highest percentage of robot acceptance came for the most menial tasks, with 73 percent saying they’d let robots clean house or deliver packages. Next highest on the list were providing tech support (69 percent) and landscaping your yard (64 percent).

Equally predictably, the lowest numbers were for tasks of a highly personal nature, or those involving complex judgments and advanced education: A mere 8 percent would let a robot choose their spouse (actually, that almost sounds high), while only 14 percent would let a robot defend them in court or choose their party’s senatorial candidate.

Only 29 percent of respondents said they’d be comfortable with a robot driving their car—and even fewer (14 percent) would let a robot drive their kids to school.

Ominously for journalists, half of those surveyed would accept robots researching and reporting news — the same number that supported robot chefs. Robots might be even more of a threat to film and TV critics (70 percent of respondents would accept a robot’s entertainment recommendations), auto repair workers (54 percent would let a robot service their car), and guidance counselors (60 percent would let a robot recommend colleges to apply to).

Slightly less endangered professions included tax preparers (47 percent supported robots doing this), security guards (43 percent) and retail salespeople (40 percent).

Robots proved less acceptable substitutes for some highly trained professionals: 33 percent of respondents said they’d let a robot teach their child, 27 percent would let them invest their money, 24 percent would let them write their will, 23 percent would let them perform surgery or prescribe medicine, and then there’s the aforementioned 14 percent who’d go with a robot lawyer.

But you don’t necessarily need an advanced degree to be more acceptable than a robot: Only 20 percent of respondents said they’d let a robot cut their hair or plan their wedding. But we’re apparently less confident about our taste in clothes: 38 percent said they’d let a robot choose their wardrobe.

Study.com said survey respondents were randomly selected from an opt-in panel of millions via Survey Monkey, and the survey was performed in late July. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent.

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