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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new poll about Americans' attitudes toward AI shows deep ambivalence about what the technology will do to their lives.

The big picture: Americans fear the effect AI will have on employment, politics and privacy, but also believe it should play a bigger role in technology, manufacturing and more.

  • In other words: Who knows?

By the numbers: A new national poll of 2,200 adults by the Stevens Institute of Technology and Morning Consult found 74% of respondents believe AI will lead to a loss of personal privacy, 71% believe it will reduce employment opportunities, and 60% believe it will increase political polarization.

  • A majority believe AI will be misused by governments, individuals and businesses.

The other side: Despite those fears, almost two-thirds of respondents think facial recognition — an increasingly widespread AI application that deeply concerns many experts — is a responsible use of the technology.

  • While loss of privacy was the biggest stated concern about AI, younger Americans were less worried — 62% of Gen Z respondents said they were worried about AI privacy, compared to 80% of baby boomers.
  • Even as respondents expressed fears about automation and AI reducing jobs, more than half believed it could ultimately create better working conditions and 70% said it would reduce the risk of dangerous jobs.

What they're saying: "There's a lot of intelligence around how AI could potentially invade privacy, but there's also a cautious optimism that I was encouraged to see," says Jason Corso, director of the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Yes, but: Corso notes while half of the respondents believed AI is sufficiently regulated by the government, in fact, there is "actually limited to no regulation right now."

  • "That tells me that we need more education about AI."

Go deeper

Fast food's celebrity strategy is working

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Fast-food giants are tapping stars with huge social media followings to hype menu items that already exist.

Why it matters: There are signs that it's invigorating sales — and every hot celebrity could soon try to lock down these deals.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 4 mins ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.