- To find out what people really think about AI and what they want from it, The Verge teamed up with Vox Media’s Insights and Research team to poll more than 2,000 US adults.
- The results tell the story of an emerging, uncertain, and exciting technology — where many have yet to use it, many are fearful of its potential, and many still have great hopes for what it could someday do for them.
- One finding is particularly clear: AI is expanding what people can create and there is ambivalence about the ethics of copyright theft.
READ MORE: The Verge and Vox Media Release New Consumer Research on Artificial Intelligence (The Verge)
AI is out in the wild and being used most extensively for creative experiments, according to a new survey.
People are generating music and videos, creating stories, and tinkering with photos using free AI engines like ChatGPT.
Above all, people have simply been using AI systems to answer questions — suggesting chatbots like ChatGPT, Bing, and Bard may replace search engines, for better or worse.
The report, “Hope, Fear and AI,” from The Verge and Vox Media, polled 2,000 Americans about their attitudes to towards artificial intelligence.
READ MORE: Hope, fear, and AI (The Verge)
One finding is particularly clear: AI is expanding what people can create. In every category polled, people who used AI said they used these systems to make something they couldn’t otherwise, with artwork being the most popular category within these creative fields.
“This makes sense given that AI image generators are much more advanced than tools that create audio or video,” note the survey authors.
There is general awareness of the ethical issues around AI and art, but less clarity about what to do about it. For example, most people think artists should get compensated when an AI tool clones their style, but a majority also don’t want these capabilities to be limited. Indeed, almost half of respondents said they’d tested the system by generating art in the style or voice of a writer, artist or other well known figure.
More than three-quarters of respondents agreed with the statement: “Regulations and laws need to be developed regarding the development of AI.”
READ MORE: EU draft legislation will ban AI for mass biometric surveillance and predictive policing (The Verge)
The report highlights that there’s strong demand for higher standards in AI systems and disclosure of their use. Strong majorities are in favor of labeling AI-generated deepfakes, for example. But many principles with wide support would be difficult to enforce, including training AI language models on fact-checked data and banning deepfakes of people made without their consent.
The use of generative AI tools doesn’t stretch much beyond experimentation at this stage and in fact only one in three survey respondents have used them. When they do, brand recognition for ChatGPT is highest, though few people are familiar with the companies and startups behind the tools.
That said, people have high expectations for AI’s impact on the world — beyond those of other emergent technologies. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said AI will have a large or moderate impact on society. That’s compared to 69% for electric vehicles and a paltry 34% for NFTs.
More than 60% of survey participants predicted job losses as a result of AI and other societal dangers, including threats to privacy and government (ranked at 68%) and corporate misuse (67%).
Graphic courtesy of Vox Media
“These dangers are weighted more heavily than potential positive applications, like new medical treatments (51%) and economic empowerment (51%). And when asked how they feel about the potential impact on their personal and professional life and on society more generally, people are pretty evenly split between worried and excited. Most often, they’re both.”
Fifty-six percent of respondents think “people will develop emotional relationships with AI,” and roughly half expect that a sentient AI will emerge at some point in the future (two-thirds don’t have an issue with companies trying to make one).
Yet, nearly 40% think that AI will wipe out human civilization.
Perhaps that’s why more people are worried than not.