Sep 19, 2023 - Technology

Most U.S. adults don't believe benefits of AI outweigh the risks, new survey finds

Data: Mitre-Harris Poll 2023 AI Survey; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Mitre-Harris Poll 2023 AI Survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

The majority of U.S. adults don't believe the benefits of artificial intelligence outweigh the risks, according to a new Mitre-Harris Poll released Tuesday.

By the numbers: 54% of the 2,063 adults in a Mitre-Harris Poll survey in July said they were more concerned about the risks of AI than they were excited about the potential benefits.

  • At the same time, 39% of adults said they believed today's AI technologies are safe and secure — down 9 points from the previous survey in November 2022.

Why it matters: AI operators and the tech industry are eyeing new regulations and policy changes to secure their models and mitigate the security and privacy risks associated with them.

  • The new survey data is some of the first to highlight the growing support for these regulatory efforts.

What they're saying: "While the public has started to benefit from new AI capabilities such as ChatGPT, we've all watched as chatbots have spread political disinformation and shared dangerous medical advice," said Douglas Robbins, vice president of engineering and prototyping at the nonprofit security research and development firm Mitre, in a statement.

  • "Strengthening existing government regulation and increasing public and private investments in AI assurance can play a critical role in addressing these concerns," he added.

Between the lines: It's pretty typical for adults to be anxious about a new innovation and its potential impacts in the early days of its usage.

Details: Respondents were more concerned about AI being used in malicious cyberattacks (80%) and identity theft schemes (78%) than they were about it being used to cause "harm to disadvantaged populations" (66%) or replacing their jobs (52%).

  • Roughly three-fourths of respondents were also concerned about AI technologies being used to harvest and sell their personal data.

Yes, but: Not all demographics feel the same wariness about AI technologies.

  • 57% of Gen Z respondents and 62% of millennials said they were more excited about the potential benefits of AI than they were worried about the risks.
  • And men were typically more excited than concerned about AI technologies (51%) than women (40%).

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