Stevens TechPulse Report reveals increased pessimism about AI's impact on everyday life
Since 2021, adults are now 10 percent less likely to believe that the positives of AI in everyday life outweigh the negatives – a stark reversal from only two years ago
(Hoboken, N.J. – July 26, 2023) – Americans have become significantly more wary about the promise and pitfalls of artificial intelligence. Since 2021, adults are now 10 percent less likely to believe that the positives of AI in everyday life outweigh the negatives — a stark reversal from only two years ago.
The findings stem from Stevens’ TechPulse Report: A perspective on Americans' attitudes toward artificial intelligence, a national poll of 2,200 adults conducted on behalf of Stevens Institute of Technology by Morning Consult. The purpose of the survey was to compare trends longitudinally with Stevens’ previous TechPulse survey completed in 2021 and poll new questions specifically on Americans’ perceptions of generative AI, which has increased in popularity and controversy recently.
“Over the past two years, Americans have become significantly more wary of AI, its capabilities and the considerable impact it has across all aspects of human life,” said Brendan Englot, associate professor and director of the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence (SIAI). “As AI continues to evolve, it’s crucial that we educate ourselves on its potential, so we can embrace its presence and its ability to alter how we live — for better or worse.”
In 2021, Stevens’ survey revealed that while Americans had numerous concerns about the harm the technology is doing now and could do in the future to individuals and society, higher percentages of survey respondents believed there was more of an upside than a downside to the growing use of AI.
Stevens’ 2023 survey reveals the tides have turned:
Particularly for those with higher education and income, adults are now less optimistic about AI's positive impact on everyday life, with only 38% believing that the benefits outweigh the negatives, compared to 48% in 2021.
Adults are also less likely now than in 2021 to say any potential future applications for AI would have a positive impact — for personal safety (32% vs. 37% in 2021), national security (30% vs. 37% in 2021) and personal privacy (23% vs. 28% in 2021).
Regarding generative AI, adults feel a similar risk factor; more adults say the risks of generative AI to the workforce outweigh the benefits (38%) than those who say the benefits outweigh the risks (31%).
As the statistics above show, the trend has clearly changed regarding how adults feel about the impact of AI in everyday life, but what hasn’t changed is adults’ knowledge of AI and their perceived daily interactions with it. Despite the influx of AI applications in American life over the last two years — in particular OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool, survey results indicate an uncertainty of what AI can and cannot do, as Americans continue to wrap their heads around the impacts and implications of the technology.
47% of adults continue to say they know little about AI, unchanged from 2021.
12% of adults also continue to say they have never heard of AI, a 1% increase since 2021.
34% of adults believe they often interact with AI in everyday life, a 2% decrease since 2021.
While adults with higher levels of education and income are, as a group, the most wary about the technology, a segment of that population felt the least concerned about the technology. Across multiple questions, AI’s biggest supporters (and those who have the least concern) are millennial men with higher education and an income above $100,000. Adults of other demographics, particularly women, are much more concerned about AI.
In addition, adults are more likely to feel negative emotions about AI than positive. While 24% of Americans feel positive emotions, 44 percent feel negative emotions, with the remaining 31% having neutral or no feelings about AI.
Stevens Institute of Technology conducts research on various aspects of AI, including robotics, space exploration, healthcare, engineering, journalism and the arts and music, among others. Future studies by Stevens are in progress to track sentiment toward AI. Results are expected to be available in September 2023.
For more information about the survey and to view the full findings, click here.
The research conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Stevens Institute of Technology seeks to understand Americans’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward AI as an extension of the 2021 TechPulse study. This poll was conducted between April 25-27, 2023 among a sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2% percentage points.
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About Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey. Since our founding in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark of Stevens’ education and research. Within the university’s four schools, 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Academic and research programs spanning business, computing, engineering, the arts and other disciplines actively advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront our most pressing global challenges. The university continues to be consistently ranked among the nation’s leaders in career services, post-graduation salaries of alumni and return on tuition investment.
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