Artificial Intelligence – Reshaping the Way We Live

There’s little doubt that Artificial Intelligence is the way of the future. To date, it’s already influencing our everyday lives, impacting the workforce, and becoming an adopted part of many large companies and businesses. Chatbots like Siri are being used every day on our cell phones, vehicles are driving by themselves, customer service experiences are being enhanced, and so on and so forth. So, whether you consciously aware or not, AI is slowly creeping its way into your life, as well as the lives of millions around the world. But where is AI leading us, and is it something to be feared?

According to thousands of Americans, the answer is yes. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, many Americans see the influence that AI is having on society, and are anticipating significant impacts in the future. And while many people state that they do see how Artificial Intelligence could have a positive impact in some areas, most people state that they feel more fear over the implications of AI than they do excitement.

Here is what the survey found:

  • Over 72% of Americans studied expressed worry or concern about the future impact of AI, while only 33% expressed enthusiasm. Much of this worry was related to the fear that AI robots could start replacing humans, leaving many without jobs.
  • 67% of people also stated worry about algorithms that were able to make hiring decisions without human involvement. Only 22% stated enthusiasm.
  • In regards to AI in the area of self-driving vehicles and caregiving, the balance between enthusiasm and worry was almost 50/50.

Other concerns shared by Americans in relation to Artificial Intelligence include concerns that it will increase economic inequality. In fact, over 76% of Americans surveyed felt that inequality will worsen if robots start taking over human jobs. Instead of being optimistic about the creation of new jobs, most Americans (75%) fear that more jobs will be lost than will be created. In addition, 64% of Americans state that they have no idea what they would do if this type of scenario started playing into light.

But as mentioned above, not all feelings towards AI are negative. In the case of self-driving vehicles, over 75% of Americans surveyed showed excitement and hope for the future. This excitement was mostly directed towards the idea that self-driving vehicles can give elderly and disabled the opportunity to live more independent lifestyles. But again, along with the enthusiasm also comes worry. Over 81% of Americans surveyed, though optimistic about self-driving vehicles in some aspects, also expressed worry that many people who drive for a living could lose their jobs. And while the majority of people (39%) feel that self-driving vehicles will make the roads safer, a significant 30% thinks that they will make driving more dangerous.

In terms of AI in the area of caregiving, over 70% of Americans express optimism about AI reducing the stress of caring for aging relatives, but 64% also present concerns that it could lead to further isolation for aging individuals.

Not only are most Americans hesitant about the future role of AI in society, but they are also reluctant to use AI themselves. Out of all Americans studied, 6/10 said they would not trust a self-driving vehicle, nor would they trust a robot to take care of their loved ones. Similarly, most people stated that they would not apply for a job that was evaluated by computers instead of people. It seems that most of this fear stems from a lack of trust in technology to make human-based decisions – a concern that, until proved otherwise, could be valid and warranted. After all, will robots and algorithms ever really be able to replace human emotions and attributes? Only time will tell.