Most UK adults wary of artificial intelligence, survey finds

61% of those surveyed said they were concerned by the idea of AI systems being able to function without human assistance

A significant majority of Brits are wary of artificial intelligence, according to a new report.

Sixty-one percent of the 2,000 UK adults surveyed by Opinium admitted to being “concerned by the idea of AI systems being able to function without human assistance”, rising to 70% among the over-55s.

Well over half of respondents (57%) consider AI to be “fundamentally flawed” because of a lack of emotional intelligence or human intuition.

Sixty-one percent said that not understanding how AI works made it hard to trust, with 69% asserting that a human should always oversee its decision-making.

Two thousand people were questioned online between May 29 and June 2, on behalf of sector think tank,

“There is still a significant knowledge gap when it comes to people’s general awareness and understanding of artificial intelligence,” said founder, Nikolas Kairinos.

“Humans have a tendency to fear things they don’t understand, and our research demonstrates this point. There is a certain level of unproven mistrust towards AI, and one can argue this is a result of how it is typically portrayed in films and books.

“The reality is that AI has already become engrained into our daily lives – many people are relying on and actively using AI without actually realising it. As this continues, I am hopeful more people will come to realise the many advantages this technology has to offer, including its ability to inform better decision-making.

“Until such a time, however, we must educate people on the basic principles of AI, and explain why it has the potential to transform our lives for the better.”

The results of the survey came as the European Union’s digital czar, Margrethe Vestager, warned that the misapplication of AI could potentially lead to an erosion of human rights.

“If properly developed and used, [AI] can work miracles, both for our economy and for our society,” said Vestager, during her keynote speech to the European AI Forum on 30 June.

“But artificial intelligence can also do harm,” she added, with reference to its use in predictive policing, and the possibility that societal biases could be amplified.

“Immigrants and people belonging to certain ethnic groups might be targeted by predictive policing techniques that direct all the attention of law enforcement to them. This is not acceptable.”

Reflecting on the EU Commission’s white paper on artificial intelligence, published in February following extensive public consultation, Vestager noted that “most of these contributors agreed that AI, if not properly framed, might compromise our fundamental rights or safety”.

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