Well, most people now---beginners or no---depend on auto-everything routinely. Up until the 1970s or 1980s, knowing a photographer meant knowing somebody who was forever fiddling with dials and meters; if you wanted to learn to use a camera, you expected to have to learn what all that stuff was about.

At this point, though, I expect most people under about 30 have never seen a handheld meter, and only rarely seen anyone make manual adjustments on a camera other than turning the flash on and off; so they not unreasonably assume that using a camera involves, well, the things they see people do with cameras. I think there's a general awareness of a kind of old-school "real" photography that was much more manual than that, but it probably seems a bit like large format---something complicated, mysterious, and very different from photography as people usually see it practiced.

Interesting question. We have younger members who fall into the generations that grew up with auto-everything cameras---hopefully some of them will weigh in with their perspectives on this subject.

-NT