Over the past year we have heard various verdicts, predictions and thoughts around artificial intelligence and its impact on society. Anyone from great scientific thinkers such as Stephen Hawking, to academics and scientists have expressed their thoughts around AI, and also emphasised the importance of providing sufficient information and knowledge around this ‘hot topic’. So where does the general public stand in this? Because after all, it will affect all of us – not only the thinkers and the writers. 

Harvard Business Review have published a survey conducted by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research that address this particular question – what does the people think about artificial intelligence?

The survey was conducted in June and included 2,100 consumers from five global markets, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., China and Brazil. The survey initially asked ‘what are your feelings around AI?’, involving questions ranging from what AI-powered devices they used, to their concerns around AI, and what sources they would trust for accurate information about the topic.

What the researchers found was surprising – not only to them, but potentially for a lot of people out there as the media paints the picture of the public living in general fear about robots taking over the planet and eventually our lives.

“Yes, consumers are worried about job loss, security issues, and privacy infringement. But, for the most part, consumers are accepting of AI”, Harvard Business Review writes.

The results from the survey revealed the following:

  • The majority of the consumers asked view AI’s impact on the society as positive, rather than negative (45% and 7%, respectively) – This also relates to their personal life, where the majority asked believes the impact of AI will have a positive impact, rather than negative (52% and 7%)
  • The understanding of AI varies – two thirds of those questioned claims to have some knowledge of AI whereas two in 10 knows a lot.
  • Only 8% of the global respondents believes AI is science fiction, and will never materialise – 92% expects the arrival of AI to come eventually, where 52% believe it is still in its early stages, and 40% believe its fully developed.
  • The trust in AI is very dependent on experience and expertise – this information is not new, as it has been mentioned frequently the past year, that the key to trusting AI, is in knowledge and education about its potential. The survey revealed that the most credible information comes from hands-on experience (46%), and technology experts (46%). In terms of handling AI, they would also rely on academics and experts within the field (39%), and product reviews (38%).
  • Consumers are experiencing, or encountering with AI on a frequent daily basis, either via the media, Internet, social media, TV, movies and the news. 59% said they had either seen or read something AI-related within the 30 days prior to the survey. Surprisingly to some maybe, 82% of these consumers reported that their recent interaction with AI had left them with a positive impression.
  • How far would people allow to include AI in their daily lives, without feeling uncomfortable? The research revealed that they would allow it to get quite far. Two-thirds or more said they would trust AI with handling anything from medication reminders, travel directions, entertainment, targeted news, and manual labour and mechanics. More than 50% trust AI to deliver elder care, health advice, financial guidance and social media creation. More than 40% would trust AI to cook, teach, police, drive and provide legal advice. AI in childcare was ranked at the bottom of the list.
  • Undoubtedly – the probability of job loss due to AI was the largest concern among the consumers, with 82% believes it will lead to job loss, whereas 18% believes it will contribute to job creation.

This could be related to the issue of insufficient knowledge about how AI can be used as an assistant rather than something that would take over your job permanently.

Harvard Business Review concludes that consumers seem ready to accept AI into their daily lives, with the impression they believe AI is at the moment being.

The perceptions are definitely painted by the media, and despite some concerns, people seem willing to allow AI to relieve them from time-consuming tasks, in order to make their lives easier.

The most important takeaway from these survey-results are definitely the importance of addressing the fear of jobs being replaced by AI and increased cyber-crime.

This article was re-purposed from: https://hbr.org/2016/10/what-do-people-not-techies-not-companies-think-about-artificial-intelligence

For the latest news and conversations about AI in business, follow us on Twitterjoin our community onLinkedIn and like us on Facebook.