Ipsos CanadaNext asks Canadians to Predict the Future: Seven in Ten Canadians (72%) Think a Major Act of Cyber Terrorism is Likely, while Majority See Heavy Job Losses to AI

Online Communities Will Rival and Surpass Geographic Ones as Most Relevant, While Paper Money and Retail On the Way Out

Ipsos CanadaNext asks Canadians to Predict the Future: Seven in Ten Canadians (72%) Think a Major Act of Cyber Terrorism is Likely, while Majority See Heavy Job Losses to AI

The author(s)

  • Mike Colledge President, Service Line Lead, Canada, Public Affairs
  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, September 18, 2017 — Canadians are looking to the future with a mix of excitement and trepidation, with change seen as the only constant. The Ipsos CanadaNext poll is a major study that asks Canadians what they think the future will look like in various area of their lives, from technology and business through to community living and personal health. Looking ahead, there are real concerns that big data and greater connectivity could lead to cyber terrorism in Canada, and that the technology literacy gap will increase at the expense of jobs. Left unchecked, much of today’s excitement about technological change risks giving way to resentment and fear.

As it is, seven in ten Canadians (72%) agree Canada will experience a major act of cyber terrorism, temporarily shutting down telecommunications, banking, electricity, and transportation systems. This concerns comes at a time when half (51%) of Canadians feel technology is changing so quickly that they are having a hard time keeping up. A majority (60%) agree that law and government policies are falling behind, not keeping pace with the changes.


The outlook for the next generation’s understanding of how tech will impact their careers is bleak: despite 61% agreeing that most Canadian companies will take advantage of new technologies to improve the way they run their businesses, only one in four (26%) say today’s education system is doing a good job of preparing students for the jobs of the future.


With many feeling they aren’t as well prepared as they should be, it’s unsurprising that Canadians are somewhat divided on their outlook on what lies ahead. Most (70%) think the world is changing too fast. Four in ten (42%) are excited about the future, meaning a majority are less than excited. At the same time, only four in ten Canadians (41%) agree that new technologies will do more good than harm.


Futurecasting: What Can We Expect?

The survey proposed a variety of scenarios that Canadians can expect to see in the future, asking them how likely they are to occur, and what the impact will be for themselves and for Canada as a whole. Many things we take for granted are expected to either change beyond recognition or vanish altogether, with money being a case in point: three in ten Canadians (28%) agree (rating their agreement an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10) that in the next ten years, paper money and coins – which have been around since 700 BC – won’t exist anymore. Some of these changes are seen as positive, while others less so:


  • Organs and tissues grown from stem cells will be available to Canadians needing transplants: 70% think it’s likely, with 94% seeing a net positive impact for Canada and 75% for themselves.
  • Drone delivered packages will be commonplace: 59% think it’s likely; a 50% net positive impact for Canada, 31% for themselves.
  • Nano sensors will be available to be placed in our blood stream that will constantly monitor our health status: 49% think it’s likely, with a perceived 66% net positive impact for Canada and a 62% net positive impact for individual Canadians.
  • At least 10% of cars and trucks on Canadian roads will be driverless: 54% think it’s likely, but few see a positive outcome: 28% net positive impact for Canada, 20% for themselves.
  • Over 50% of internet traffic will be from household appliances, TV, etc: 63% think it’s likely to occur, but while the net positive impact for Canada is at 23%, it sits at just 1% in terms of personal impact – meaning Canadians are nearly as likely to see a negative impact as a positive one.
  • There will be about half as many retail stores: 76% think this is likely, with the net impact well into negative territory at -46% for Canada and -45% for individual Canadians. So while inertia may be leading this way, Canadians don’t think it’s a change for the better.


What About Jobs?

With these and many other changes are widely expected to become part of the Canadian reality within our lifetime, many are concerned about what it will mean for their jobs. There is a significant amount of pessimism about the labour market of the future, though where some see job losses and transition, others see diversity and new opportunities.


A majority (61%) agree most people will have more numerous, shorter-term jobs over their career than they do now. Half (52%) take it one step further, saying more people will be performing completely new jobs every five years, and that very few people will have one-profession careers. Manufacturing will be hit particularly hard: half (53%) of Canadians agree that robots will replace 80% of all manufacturing jobs. In this new reality of frequent career changes, many (63%) agree that having money saved to go back to school or for training will be something almost everyone should do.


When it comes to what these jobs will look like, one in three (33%) are optimistic, saying that all things considered, advances in technology will lead to more and better jobs for Canadians. The rest are not so sure. Meanwhile, some sectors are seen as more promising than others in terms of providing jobs ten years from now. The top five sectors are:

  • Communications & information tech: 73%
  • Telecommunications: 68%
  • Health care: 57%
  • Entertainment media: 54%
  • Construction: 53%

Conversely, the five bottom sectors in terms of where the new jobs will be, are:

  • Retail sector: 32%
  • Agriculture: 30%
  • Mining: 27%
  • Forestry: 26%
  • Fishing: 19%


Online Communities More Relevant than Geographic Ones

Upheaval in the labour market is also expected to have a significant impact on local communities, although here too opinions differ significantly. Many see online communities as becoming more relevant than our geographical neighbours: six in ten (60%) think people will be more closely attached to an online community or network of friends than a geographic based community. At the same time, seven in ten (71%) think local communities will become very important in people’s lives as more people work from home.


As the job landscape shifts, there is still a perceived need for economic migration within the country: eight in ten (84%) think people will continue to move in large numbers to the largest cities in Canada, and two in three (66%) think people will move from community to community more frequently.


The Ipsos CanadaNext survey provides a wealth of rich information, including opinions among technology skeptics and believers. Indices have been created to give a high-level view of the trends in the data, and deeper industry-specific dives with full demographic analysis demonstrate the richness of the data. For more details, please see the report or contact Ipsos.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted in June, 2017. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadian adults aged 18+ from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the population of adults 18+ according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Mike Colledge
President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 292 0253

Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324-2002

The author(s)

  • Mike Colledge President, Service Line Lead, Canada, Public Affairs
  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs