Electronic Products & Technology

Report reveals conflicted attitudes about artificial intelligence

August 28, 2018  EP&T Magazine

Benevolent force for good or existential threat to humanity? A new research report measuring consumer attitudes around artificial intelligence (AI), respondents reveal how they feel about the growing pervasiveness of AI in society and their comfort level with rapid advances in the technology’s use. The report, generated by tech consultancy Elicit, found that consumers conflicted as they weigh the benefits and risks of AI in the wake of exciting innovations in self-driving cars and robotics alongside recent news stories about intelligent personal assistants gone rogue and companies’ reported misuse of personal data and predictive technologies.

Elicit’s CEO, Mason Thelen, explains, “AI can be a transformative way for companies to interact with their customers and deliver better experiences. But an important perspective was missing in this conversation – how consumers feel about the use of AI in their everyday lives and by companies they engage with. We thought it was important to address this and to provide that perspective to companies.”

“Artificial Intelligence and the Very Real, Real-World Anxiety It Causes” confirms that consumers understand and appreciate the ways AI improves their lives – to a point. The 14-page report provides insights for organizations developing AI applications as consumers expand on how they feel companies are employing the technology today and whether they might go “too far” in the future, their privacy concerns and their rising apprehension when AI acts too independently of human input.


A nationally representative sample of 697 adults completed the survey in spring 2018. The results are available for complimentary download at http://www.aianxiety.com/.

Among the findings:

  • Respondents’ general level of comfort with AI is divided. A majority (58%) land somewhere between feeling that AI has the ability to serve purposes that are good and feeling that it is a threat to humanity.
  • One third of consumers worry that AI won’t stay focused on mundane tasks and leave the real thinking to humans. WhileWestworld-like scenarios seem pretty remote, just under half of consumers (43%) state that we’re not too far out before AI becomes a concern in our society.
  • Consumers have a healthy skepticism about what companies will do with AI. A majority of Americans (seven out of 10) think some companies will go too far with AI, and another six out of 10 are concerned with how companies will use AI and the information they have to engage with them.

Lisa Brink, Sr. Director of Strategy says, “The conveniences and enhanced experiences delivered by AI are unlimited, and most people at an intellectual level understand that and welcome it. The anxiety and unease is created when AI begins to make decisions on its own without human input. Companies can leverage this insight to address some of those barriers and make these advances more palatable to consumers.”


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1 Comment » for Report reveals conflicted attitudes about artificial intelligence
  1. I read two articles about AI last year.
    To be honest, at the time I was frightened. Today, I am deeply concerned.
    There are all too numerous examples over our species history where we collectively or individually adopted something or changed somethings singularly or en mass, and the results were really bad. We’ve done these things intentionally and unintentionally.

    The Holocaust.
    Redirecting watersheds.
    Nuclear Weapons.
    Biological Weapons.
    Chemical Weapons.
    Economic Manipulation.
    Great Chinese Famine.
    Species Extinction.
    World War One.
    World War Two.
    The Holodomor.
    The Crusades.

    And these are just some recent examples of the totally stupid things we do without given anything a second sober thought.

    AI comes the risk of our very existence and we need to closely examine this now, from all sides, cultural, intellectual, philosophical, religious, before it overtakes us, before there is no time to do so.

    Science fiction has been prescient in foretelling our near term and long term futures and has given us an huge supply of cautionary tales to consider.

    Collectively, we would do well to stand back and consider where we are and what we’re going to do.

    The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence

    The AI Revolution: Our Immortality or Extinction

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