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In recent years, the proliferation of artificial intelligence has given the world technologies like Siri, Netflix recommendations, and chat-based customer support. But a new survey shows Americans are still torn about how this could continue to impact society.
The nonpartisan Pew Research Center surveyed more than 10,000 adults and found that their support for artificial intelligence varied depending on its use.
Do the police use facial recognition? More people say it’s a good idea than not. Driverless cars? Not really.
The survey focused on six questions divided into two categories: human enhancements and the “burgeoning range of AI applications”.
Topics that included AI for human enhancements were the use of robots for manual labor, gene editing in babies to reduce their risk of developing diseases, and implanting computer chips in the brain to increase cognitive function.
The other category included police using facial recognition technology, social media companies filtering misinformation with algorithms, and developing driverless cars.
Of all the uses of AI, survey participants most strongly favored police use of facial recognition technology; 46% said they thought it would be good for society, while 27% said it would be bad.
Filtering misinformation was also strongly supported, at 38%, with 31% saying it would have negative impacts.
The most strongly opposed AI applications were computer chip brain implants (56%) and driverless cars (44%).
Approximately 42% of respondents were unsure about using robots to do manual labor, while 39% were unsure about editing babies’ genes.
The Pew Research Center says it selects participants through a random sample of residential addresses nationwide.
“In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected,” the report said. “The survey is weighted to be representative of the adult US population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories.”
Some responses varied by political party, race and gender.
When asked what AI regulation might look like, an average of 61% of Republicans worried that the government was “going too far,” while an average of 64% of Democrats thought the government “ wouldn’t go far enough.
There were also reservations about the degree of inclusion of AI.
Approximately 51% of participants said they thought men’s experiences were well considered in AI development, compared to 36% who felt the same about women’s experiences.
Another 48% of participants said they felt the experiences and perspectives of white adults were taken into account. The percentage of respondents who said the experiences of Asian adults, Black adults, and Hispanic adults were taken into account were 33%, 24%, and 23%, respectively.
Overall, 45% of American adults said they were equally concerned and excited about AI, compared to 18% more excited than worried and 37% more worried than excited.
Among those leaning more toward excitement, they cited reasons such as “makes life, society better,” “saves time, more efficient,” and “inevitable progress is the future.”
The more worried than excited crowd said the reasons for their opinion were “loss of human jobs”, “surveillance, hacking, digital privacy” and “lack of human connection, qualities”.
The Pew survey polled 10,260 adults, in the United States alone, from November 1-7, 2021.