How do Australians see the role of AI?

AI & ML in Financial Services

Nearly two out of three Australians, in particular women, seniors and those in regional areas, were sceptical about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and believed that it “creates more problems than it solves”, according to a recent survey.

The study by pollster Roy Morgan found that women (62 per cent) were far more likely to agree that artificial intelligence (AI) created more problems than it would potentially solve, compared to males (52 per cent).

A large majority of those aged over 50 also agreed with this statement (65 per cent of 50-64-year-olds and 64 per cent of those aged 65+), whilst only a slim majority of younger Australians agreed (51 per cent of those aged under 35).

On top of that, those in regional and rural areas were more likely to be sceptical of artificial intelligence than those in the capital cities, with a clear majority of 61 per cent of people in regional and rural Australia agreeing that AI had created more problems than it solves, compared to 56 per cent of those in the capital cities.

The most problematic area for those who saw AI as the one creating “more problems” was the risk of potential job losses, the need for greater regulation and the ability for AI to be misused.

On the other hand, those who believed that AI would solve rather than create problems said they expected AI would lead to a better society, and could be beneficial when used correctly.

“Australians are excited about the benefits that AI technology can bring to everyday life, but on the balance, the majority of us feel the potential for job losses, misuse, and inaccuracy outweigh these benefits,” Roy Morgan’s chief executive Michele Levine said.

“Australians feel there is a clear need for regulation in the AI space, to ensure that these risks can be adequately managed.

“Surprisingly, one in five (20 per cent) of us are so concerned about the rise of AI, that we think there is a real risk of the extinction of the human race at the hands of AI in the next two decades.”

According to Nik Samoylov, coordinator of the Campaign for AI Safety, the survey showed widespread community apprehension about AI.

Most Australians are pessimistic about artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to job security and opportunities for misuse,” he said.

“The poll suggests that people want government regulation to deal with these issues, including unknown consequences and new problems that AI will create.

He warned that the Australian Government did not have time to delay AI regulation, nor to delay banning the development of dangerous AI that could be misused or cause grave accidents.

The Roy Morgan poll, conducted jointly with the Campaign for AI Safety, surveyed nearly 1,500 Australian participants via SMS.