People want automation but are afraid of machines, study shows

This robot will cut grass and shovel your snow
This robot will cut grass and shovel your snow

It's time to update a tired cliche. The saying should be the following: Machines. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Lippincott, a New York-based creative consultancy, released a survey Monday finding 81% of people are excited about an automated life, but 73% are scared to trust machines. The study was conducted among 2,000 people in New York this fall.

While we generally want the comforts and ease automation, computers and machines can provide, we're wary of them, too.

"It vividly shows people aren't even aware in their own consciousness of what they actually want," said John Marshall, chief strategy and innovation officer at Lippincott. "If you told someone 10 years ago they'd make all their baby pictures public for the world to see, they'd stay in a stranger's apartment instead of a hotel or they'd trust robots to manage their money, they'd say you were nuts."

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Marshall said the findings point to a rising conflict in our rapidly changing world.

"It's going to quickly become very disconcerting for people," Marshall said. "They're quickly availing themselves to these technologies but espousing that they don't want them, especially the tracking of data."

Marshall recalled a study in New York City where hundreds of participants gave personal data, such as a fingerprint, in exchange for a cookie. People think they don't want to be tracked, but in practice they routinely trade our privacy for something in return, like using Facebook or Google's services.

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Businesses must learn in changing times, traditional market research is less effective at revealing what customers really want, Marshall said. That's a stance some leading innovators have long held.

"A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them," Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said.

He was not fond of using focus groups to develop products.

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses," Henry Ford famously quipped,.

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