Public trust in AI rapidly shrinking globally, America sees sharpest drop

Trust in AI technology and the companies that develop it is sharply decreasing globally, a new survey from global communications firm Edelman has revealed.

The concerning data is being published just as regulators around the globe are working out rules that could apply to the AI industry. The European Union’s AI Act is soon to be greenlit, for example.

Yet Edelman, which launched an original 2024 Trust Barometer recently, says it has found that more and more people around the world believe innovation is badly managed.

“Respondents were concerned that government regulation was lagging behind the rapid pace of invention and that business was failing to consider the potential impact on employment or concerns about privacy or lifestyle,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of the firm.

Data from Edelman’s new technology study backs up his claim. It turns out that people trust general technology much more (76%) than AI (50%).

Globally, trust has declined in AI companies over the past five years from 61% to 53%. In the US, there’s been a 15-point drop from 50% to 35%.

Resistance to AI is indeed substantially higher in developed markets. By a three-to-one margin, respondents in France, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the US, Germany, Australia, Holland, and Sweden reject the growing use of AI.

This contrasts with developing markets such as Saudi Arabia, India, China, Kenya, Nigeria, and Thailand, where acceptance is two or three to one over resistance, the study says.

In the US, both Republicans (58%) and Democrats (45%) reject AI. Edelman also cites “a truly stunning finding” that more Republicans reject AI than the MRNA vaccine.

However, contrary to expectations, the study has also revealed that only 19% of respondents are afraid of AI’s impact on job security. People are more worried about privacy (39%), possible devaluation of what it means to be human (38%), and harm to people (37%).

That’s the world, though. The US has much higher levels of concern about AI’s potential harm to society (61%), its ability to compromise privacy (52%), and the technology being not adequately tested or evaluated (54%).

“Citizens who have been adversely affected by globalization or changing advice during the pandemic are skeptical about promised innovations,” said Edelman.

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