Aug 9, 2023 - Technology

Exclusive poll: Americans distrust AI giants

Data source: YouGov; Chart: Axios Visuals

Majorities of American voters from both parties are worried about AI risks and support federal regulation to control those risks, according to new polling by a new AI-focused think tank, the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute, shared exclusively with Axios.

By the numbers: Those polled prefer federal AI regulation over self-regulation by tech companies, with 82% saying they don't trust tech executives to regulate AI.

  • 56% of voters support a federal agency regulating AI, compared to 14% who don't.

Why it matters: Policy consensus is rare in today's polarized electorate, as is strong support for new federal regulation.

  • The poll, conducted by YouGov, provides an example of slowly eroding trust in tech companies.

The details: 62% of people said they are somewhat or mostly "concerned" about AI compared to 21% who said they are somewhat or mostly "excited" about it, among the 1,001 polled from July 18-21.

  • 72% prefer slowing down the development of AI compared to just 8% who would rather speed it up.
  • Three in four Democrats and Republicans alike believe artificial intelligence could eventually pose a threat to the existence of the human race.
  • 86% believe AI could accidentally cause a catastrophic event.

Zoom out: Americans adults are not alone in preferring regulated AI to unregulated alternatives.

Yes, but: Support for AI regulation doesn't mean voters in democracies trust their politicians and bureaucrats to get the rules right.

  • The KPMG study found much lower confidence levels in government ability to regulate AI in the U.S. (49%), Japan (47%), and the U.K. (45%) than in China (86%), India (70%), and Singapore (60%).
  • Though trust levels have fallen in recent years, Americans also still hold net positive views of tech, according to Edelman's annual trust barometer report.

What they're saying: "Americans are wary about the next stages of AI and want policymakers to step in to develop it responsibly," Daniel Colson, executive director of the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute, which favors a cautious approach to AI deployment, told Axios.

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