A survey conducted by Edelman’s AI Center of Expertise that elicited answers from 1,000 members of the U.S. general population and 300 executives in the technology industry found that more than 60 percent of the public and 54 percent of tech executives think that AI must be regulated to ensure it develops safely, according to Venture Beat.
“Our [2019 Edelman Artificial Intelligence] survey — explores the issues surrounding AI, from the more obvious positives of improved health care and manufacturing to the countervailing concerns overhanging widespread adoption,” said Edelman global technology sector lead Sanjay Nair. “We found both groups are curious about AI, yet there is also substantial uncertainty and worry that AI use could lead to widespread job loss, income inequality, and social isolation.”
The general population seems to be more (unsurprisingly) astute to possible consequences on those in lower-economic demographics. While 54 percent of people said that AI will negatively affect low-income families, only 43 percent of the C Suite surveyees agreed. Yet 75 percent of executives compared with 67 percent of people believe that automation and labor-saving technology will benefit the upper class.
Artificial Intelligence will certainly move jobs away from workers with less education who specialize in manual labor positions. According to the World Economic Forum, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gartner, and the McKinsey Global Institute, AI could replace 75 million jobs by 2025 and reduce the percentage of “low digital skills” from 40 percent to 30 percent.
9 in 10 of tech executive respondents and roughly 8 in 10 of the general population would describe AI as the “next technological revolution.” Executives seem to be more optimistic about this prospect, with 54% “excited” about the future of AI compared with the general population’s 31%.
While the broader implications seem to be universally concerning on at least some level, most agree that our day-to-day operations will become easier, with about 91 percent of executives and 76 percent of the general public somewhat or strongly agree that mundane tasks will be transferred to machines. 72 percent of executives think AI will have a positive societal impact, and 42 percent believe it’ll be of “critical importance” within two years.
Still, most respondents were in favor of regulation of the growing technology. Over half of the general public and executive (60 and 54 percent, respectively) want a “public body” rather than the tech industry itself to regulate AI growth and over 70 percent believe the tech industry is obligated to be responsible their developments in AI and use the technology to improve society.
“The Edelman AI [report] is both broad and deep and raises many profound issues,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, head of artificial intelligence and machine learning at the World Economic Forum. “It is clear from the results that business and government need to be thoughtful and take action across many issues to ensure the potentially harmful effects of AI do not cause society to lose the clear benefits that can accrue from the technology.”