Introducing technological innovations: Essays on the effects on voting and mental health
: (Alternative Format Thesis)

  • Diling Xiang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Recent technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, have attracted much scholarly attention, though largely in respect of their effect on the labour market. The thesis documents the indirect impact of technological innovations on the mental health and voting decisions of workers in the United States. The first paper investigates whether AI can be served as a general-purpose technology, examining comprehensive data of AI patents. It emerges that the stocks of AI related patents, such as deep learning and logistics systems, grow more quickly than robotics ones. AI applications are more popular in the chemical and medical sectors than those of computer science and electronics. The findings of the first paper indicate the potential of AI to serve as a general-purpose technology. Thus, policy makers should consider the readiness of our labour market, political and educational institutions to adjust to the introduction of AI.
The second paper empirically explores the impact of industrial robots on voting outcomes in the U.S. presidential and congressional elections. It studies industrial robot and election data from the United States; the endogeneity issue is addressed by using the European robot usage as the instrument of U.S. robot exposure. It is deduced that industrial robots significantly influence voting behaviour. As such, politicians might seek to mitigate the sway of robots to safeguard political stability.
The third paper empirically assesses how industrial robots affect the mental health of U.S. workers. Statistics of mortalities caused by drug and alcohol abuse, among others, are used as indicators of worker mental health. Industrial robots are found to exert a stark, negative effect on the mental health of workers, reflected by a rising drug and alcohol-induced mortality rate, for example. In other words, increasing robot usage leads to deterioration in mental health. Companies seeking to widen the participation of robotics should take this into account. Likewise, policy makers should provide better protection and welfare for those workers at risk of job loss due to technological advancement.
Overall, we confirm the potential for AI to reach far and wide across our economy. Furthermore, the ability of industrial robots to affect election results and the mental health of individuals is evidenced. Accordingly, it is pivotal that policy makers are prepared for the expansion of AI and able to identify and nullify the possible risks.
Date of Award28 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMaik Schneider (Supervisor) & Patrick Gaule (Supervisor)


  • robots
  • artificial intelligence
  • new technology

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