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Americans are skeptical that AI will be used responsibly

October 17, 2023 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

In this era of dynamic change, understanding consumer expectations and sentiments is a pivotal requirement for success. The 2023 Bentley-Gallup Business in Society Report provides valuable insights into the evolving attitudes of Americans towards businesses and their practices.

Notably, the report reveals that an impressive 63% of Americans now perceive businesses as positive contributors to society, marking a substantial increase in this sentiment. This shift is particularly significant at a time when trust in many institutions has waned. To maintain and further build trust, the report reinforces that businesses must think beyond positive margins and profitability and consider broader societal contributions.

Trust in AI

In particular, the report examines Americans’ concerns about businesses’ responsible use of AI. Almost eight in 10 of respondents (79%) express limited to no trust in businesses’ ability to adopt AI responsibly. This lack of trust extends across all demographics, including gender, race, age, education level, and political affiliation.

One of the key concerns contributing to this skepticism is the belief that AI intelligence will lead to job displacement. An overwhelming three out of four Americans think that artificial intelligence will reduce the number of jobs in the U.S. over the next decade. This apprehension is exceptionally high among those without a bachelor’s degree and those aged 45 or older. The research found that 18- to 29-year-olds are less concerned about AI’s potential impact on the job market. However, 66% of this age group believes AI will reduce job opportunities, compared to higher figures for older adults.

Benefits of AI

Interestingly, the public remains skeptical about AI’s overall benefit to society. Only 10% of Americans believe AI will do more good than harm, while 50% think it brings an equal balance of benefits and drawbacks. The remaining 40% believe AI does more harm than good. This cautious outlook spans all demographic groups, yet Black and Asian Americans exhibit a more positive perception of AI’s benefits to society. Seventy percent of Asian and 67% of Black adults believe that AI does more good than harm or brings an equal balance, compared to 60% of Hispanic and 59% of white adults.

The survey also highlights areas where Americans believe AI can outperform humans. For instance, most respondents believe AI is as good as, if not better, at tasks like customizing online content, recommending products or services, and assisting students with homework. However, Americans are more skeptical about AI’s capabilities in fields such as providing medical advice, driving cars, and recommending hiring employees.

Younger Americans are more optimistic about AI’s potential to enhance their online experiences. For example, 82% of those aged 18 to 29 believe that AI is as good as or better than humans at customizing online content, the highest among all age groups.

Best practices

The research speaks to the importance of addressing consumer concerns about the usage of AI. The report recommends three fundamental practices:

  1. Transparency in how AI is being employed and the principles guiding its usage.
  2. Responsibility in AI deployment is key, emphasizing its application’s ethical and moral implications.
  3. Active and consistent communication to ensure that AI’s benefits are clearly articulated and understood.

This research presents a cautious public outlook on the overall benefits of AI and highlights the need for businesses to think responsibly about employing this technology.

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