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Survey shows most people neutral on impacts of AI


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Image source: Kira

More people in the UK are negative than positive on the likely societal impacts of AI, but over half are currently neutral, according to the Government’s latest tracker survey on attitudes to data.

It includes a finding that just 14% expect a positive impact while 25% expect negative; but 58% are still neutral in their outlook. (3% unexplained).

The results have been made public in a report on the survey from the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation – recently renamed the Responsible Technology Adoption Unit – in the Department for Science Innovation and Technology.

The survey involved interviews with 4,000 people and a further 200 with digitally excluded adults.

Other findings include that 54% now feel they could give a partial explanation of what AI is, and 12% say they could do so in detail.

Risks and fears

Meanwhile, there is a perception of the risks from the technology, with 45% saying they fear it could take away people’s jobs, 35% that it will lead to a loss of human creativity and problem solving skills, and 34% that humans will lose control of AI.

In addition, when asked to enter a single word about their feelings on the technology, those with the highest response rates were ‘scary’, ‘worry’ and ‘unsure’.

In the report’s foreword, Minister for Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Viscount Camrose says: “To ensure that the benefits of AI are felt across the UK, it is essential to build justified trust in these systems.

“Understanding public attitudes towards AI and data driven technologies will ensure that innovation works for everyone and does not propagate or exacerbate inequalities. The recent explosion of generative AI into public view means that it is more important than ever that we understand the public’s hopes, expectations and concerns as these technologies develop.”

Nuance and context

The report says that on a wide scale public opinions relating to data and AI are highly nuanced and dependent on context. The public recognises the potential societal benefits, but is sceptical that they will be distrusted equably and is concerned over security.

Details include that 57% agree with the proposition that data is useful for creating products and services that benefit them, 44% that collecting and analysing data is good for society, and 45% that organisations are held accountable when they misuse data. But the figures are lower for feeling they have control over how their data is used (35%) and that all groups in society benefit equally from data use (33%).

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