Mapped: Global sentiment on AI

Global sentiment on AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a revolutionary force with the potential to transform many aspects of our daily lives. So understanding how the average person feels about this technology is essential as it further integrates into society.

In this chart sponsored by the Lloyds Register Foundation, we explore the results of the World Risk Poll 2021: a digital world.

World opinion is divided

In the survey, which had 125,000 respondents in 121 countries, people were asked whether artificial intelligence ‘mainly help’ or it would be ‘mostly hurt‘ people in their home country over the next 20 years.

We’ve reviewed the report of these responses below.

A higher ratio above 1.0 indicates that more people think AI could “mostly help,” while a ratio below 1.0 suggests that the population is more skeptical of the technology.

Globally, the average ratio is 1.4, but there are significant differences when looking at each individual region.

Region Relationship
East Asia 4.4
Northern/Western Europe 1.8
Australia and New Zealand 1.7
Eastern Europe 1.4
Southern Europe 1.3
Central Asia 1.2
Southeast Asia 1.2
Middle East 1.0
North America 1.0
Latin America and the Caribbean 0.9
South Asia 0.9
Central/West Africa 0.8
North Africa 0.7
Southern Africa 0.6
East Africa 0.4

In particular, public opinion among the major economies appears divided.

When we looked at the data, we saw that the US showed skepticism towards AI with a ratio of 0.9. In this case, potential job loss could be the number one cause for concern.

On the other hand, China gave a ratio of 4.5, meaning that for every respondent who believes AI will “mostly harm,” 4.5 said AI would “mostly help.” .

Why is AI so polarizing?

Artificial intelligence has always been a divisive topic and even the media cannot establish whether AI is similar to chaotic and malevolent Ultron or the thoughtful and obsessed with cats Lieutenant Commander Data.

As a result, it’s not just a person’s nationality or media consumption that influences their position on AI. A person’s life experience can also play a role in their perception of AI, particularly when it comes to religious views or internet access:

View Rejected/Don’t know (%) Neither (%) Have no opinion (%) Predominantly harmful (%) Mostly help (%)
Has access to the Internet 5% 3% 22% 26% 44%
Don’t have access to the internet 15% 2% 23% 32% 28%
Religion is important 9% 1% 24% 34% 32%
Religion is not important 7% 4% 20% 21% 48%
He has suffered discrimination 6% 3% 21% 35% 35%
He has not been discriminated against 9% 2% 24% 32% 33%

AI has a lot of philosophical ramifications, so it’s no surprise only 32% of those who consider religion important believe artificial intelligence will help. In contrast, 48% of non-religious people believe AI will mostly help.

In 16 countries, the proportion of people saying AI will cause greater harm was higher among those who had experienced discrimination based on race/nationality, skin color or gender, than among those who had not. Notably, these include three Northern European countries where overall perceptions of AI are among the most positive in the world: Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

An uncertain future

While 39% of global respondents believe AI will primarily help over the next 20 years, only 27% of those people believe they would be comfortable behind the wheel of a self-driving car. This suggests that while people may be ready for AI as a tool, they may not be ready for it to take over much of their lives.

With this in mind, understanding public opinion is critical for policymakers and industry leaders to shape the development and deployment of AI technologies to address these concerns.

Lloyds Register Foundation created the World Risk Survey 2021 to help design a safer world, but the scope of this study goes beyond artificial intelligence and personal data. In part two of this series, we’ll explore the World Risk Poll 2021: Safe At Work and uncover some surprising trends regarding workplace harassment.

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