Nation & World

Study: Americans worried about AI

Most are concerned about data security, lessened privacy

Abaca Press/TNS

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a Senate committees on Capitol Hill in April.
Abaca Press/TNS Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a Senate committees on Capitol Hill in April.

You’ve heard it before. Artificial intelligence is here to take your jobs and steal your privacy.

With the advent of facial recognition technology in products such as iPhones, and recent data breaches at major companies such as Facebook, concern over the effects of AI in daily human life is as strong as ever.

A survey released last week by Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute shows America’s fear of automation is alive and well.

The national study, which polled more than 1,500 adults aged 18 or older, showed serious concerns about AI, a technology that has a growing presence in a number of industries.

Of those polled, 39 percent expressed worry about the overall impact of AI, while 38 percent said AI will lead to fewer jobs for humans.

Much of the apprehension, however, came from worries about data security, with 49 percent of respondents saying AI will lead to diminished privacy.

Brookings conducted the survey from May 9-11 using Google Surveys. Respondents were asked for their gender, age and the U.S. region in which they live. A chunk of those polled also didn’t answer some questions or responded that they didn’t know the answer.

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Those surveyed from Southern states showed lower but still strong opposition to AI. About 35 percent of respondents in the region said they’re worried about AI, and 46 percent answered that AI will reduce privacy.

The doubts about where AI might be taking us are sparked in part by the swift growth of the technology.

“Artificial intelligence is taking off in a variety of areas,” said Darrell West, author of the study.

This includes industries such as finance and health care, with many stocks now being traded automatically and health care providers using AI technology to perform functions that include CT scans.

At some restaurants and automated stores, customers can check out on tablets or their phones. Daily use of AI is accelerating rapidly as competition within different industries surges.

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