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Public hold pessimistic view on AI; 52% are nervous of using it: study

The report points to the US, China, the EU, and the UK as leaders in the AI race.

Younger generations tend to be more positive about AI’s potential to enhance their lives. (Representative image: iStock)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

The annual Stanford AI Index Report 2024 highlights several concerning trends surrounding the advancement of artificial intelligence and its impact on society. While AI has made significant strides in various benchmarks such as visual reasoning and image classification, surpassing human performance in many areas, these achievements have raised alarm among the general public.

The report points to the US, China, the EU, and the UK as leaders in the AI race. In 2023, the US contributed 61 notable AI models, while the EU and China contributed 21 and 15, respectively. AI patent grants worldwide increased by 62.7 per cent between 2021 and 2022, with China’s share of AI patents dominating the global landscape.

A recent survey from Ipsos reveals that people worldwide are increasingly aware of AI’s potential impact and are becoming more apprehensive. The proportion of individuals who believe AI will dramatically affect their lives in the next three to five years has risen from 60 per cent to 66 per cent in the past year.

Additionally, 52 per cent of respondents express nervousness about AI products and services, representing a 13 percentage point increase from 2022. In the United States, data from Pew shows that 52 per cent of Americans report feeling more concerned than excited about AI, up from 38 per cent in 2022.

AI sentiment in Western nations remains relatively low but is gradually improving. In 2022, several developed Western nations, including Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and the United States, were among the least positive about AI products and services.

Since then, each of these countries has seen an increase in the proportion of respondents recognizing the benefits of AI, with the Netherlands experiencing the most notable shift.

Generational pessimistic view

The public holds a pessimistic view of AI’s economic impact. In an Ipsos survey, only 37 per cent of respondents believe AI will improve their jobs, 34 per cent anticipate AI will boost the economy, and 32 per cent think it will enhance the job market. These figures indicate a lack of confidence in AI’s potential to drive economic growth.

Demographic differences also play a role in shaping AI optimism. Younger generations tend to be more positive about AI’s potential to enhance their lives. For example, 59 per cent of Gen Z respondents believe AI will improve entertainment options, while only 40 per cent of baby boomers share this view.

Additionally, individuals with higher incomes and education levels are more optimistic about AI’s positive impacts on entertainment, health, and the economy compared to their lower-income and less-educated counterparts.

Disruption in job markets

ChatGPT has become widely known and used internationally. An international survey from the University of Toronto shows that 63 per cent of respondents are aware of ChatGPT, and approximately half of those aware report using ChatGPT at least once a week.

Many individuals express nervousness about the rapid progress of AI, as it has the potential to disrupt job markets and transform entire industries. The fear of job loss due to AI automation is prevalent, with AI increasingly taking over tasks previously performed by humans. This shift is causing concern for workers, as AI tools are being embraced to improve efficiency and productivity.

Absence of continuous evaluation

The report highlights the absence of consistent evaluations for AI models, which makes it challenging to assess their true capabilities. Multiple AI companies claim to have the fastest or most accurate large language models (LLMs), but without a standardised framework for assessment, it is difficult to determine which model is genuinely superior.

No standardisation of AI rules

Additionally, the increase in AI-related regulations in recent years reflects growing concerns about governing AI technologies and their impact on privacy and security. The number of AI-related regulations in the US has seen a steep rise, indicating an increased focus on managing AI’s influence on society.

The number of AI-related regulations in the US has seen a steep rise over the past five years, with just one in 2016 and 25 in 2023. The total number of AI-related regulations grew by 56.3 per cent in 2023, indicating an increased focus on governing AI technologies.

As AI continues to advance and transform societies, it is crucial to address these fears by ensuring the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies. Regulatory oversight and careful management of AI’s potential risks are essential to mitigate negative impacts and maintain public trust in AI advancements.

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