Global: More people worried than not about artificial intelligence

Rishad Dsouza
November 18, 2021, 10:16 AM UTC

Machine learning-based voice assistants on everyday consumer gadgets, like smartphones and speakers, are one of the most pervasive examples of artificial intelligence we let into our everyday lives.

But the convenience of AI is accompanied by a variety of consumer concerns, including but not limited to privacy encroachment, safety, bias, and surveillance. A new YouGov study, which surveys consumers across 17 markets, reveals that on balance people are more likely to be concerned about AI than not – today two in five consumers worldwide are worried about artificial intelligence (41%).

Yet the overall figure masks considerable regional differences. The highest levels of concerns are noted in urban India (52%), online Indonesia (49%), France (53%) and the UAE (48%), where about half the population strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “I am worried about artificial intelligence”. There are statistically significant variances in the degree of concern shared by consumers in each market. For instance, a quarter of Indians indicate express strong concerns (25%), but that number dips to 21% in France, where consumers are far likely to indicate they are only “somewhat” concerned.

Interestingly, the US (45%) ranks pretty high in the list of markets concerned about AI, even though (or perhaps because) it is one of the most dominant players in the AI space.

This in contrast to China – another huge adopter and innovator in artificial intelligence – where the fewest shares of consumers say that they have concerns about the technology. Only a third of them say they strongly or somewhat agree with the statement (33%).

Despite this variance, consumers in both markets are about as likely to outright dismiss concerns about AI. A quarter of consumers in both the US (25%) and China (27%) disagree with the statement that they are worried about AI. This is explained by the fact that the Chinese (37%) are far less likely to commit to an opinion either way compared to Americans (22%).

The highest levels of disagreement with the sentiment are noted in Sweden (38%), Denmark (35%), Poland (34%), Italy (33%) and Germany (34%).

This data is part of a broader survey which looks at concerns around other hot topics in technology such as driverless cars, 5g, gene editing and robots taking human jobs. We will explore those topics in detail in articles published over the next month.

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Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 511 and 2,018 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in February 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.