How do people feel about AI?

A recent survey of over 4000 adults in Britain conducted by researchers at Ada Lovelace Institute & Alan Turing Institute offers insight into how the public currently experiences AI – here are a few findings worth highlighting.

  • The study finds over 60% of the public supported ‘laws and regulations’ for AI use. Accountability emerges as a key issue with 59% of those surveyed preferring clear procedures for appealing to a human against an AI decision.
  • Interestingly, the study also finds varying degrees of awareness depending on the AI use in question with 93% of respondents aware of facial recognition AI in phones but only 19% aware of AI being used for assessing social welfare eligibility.

Although an India-based study on public perceptions regarding AI is yet to be conducted, a similar pattern unfolds in a recent report by Common Cause India, the “Status of Policing in India Report 2023,” which examines the use of CCTV surveillance and facial recognition technologies.

  • The findings show that those surveyed are less aware of the more discreet uses of AI/ related surveillance tech with a little over one in five people not aware of FRT and only 39% of respondents saying that they were aware of incidents where CCTV footage was manipulated.
  • Regarding privacy-related issues more broadly, 84% of respondents were not aware of the landmark Puttaswamy and Anr. Vs. Union of India and Ors judgment and two out of three people had not heard of the Pegasus spyware issue.

However, the tides are slowly turning. Bringing limitations of advanced AI to the fore, researchers like Aravind Narayanan, Timnit Gebru, and many more have flagged key risks pertaining to prediction models for social outcomes or inaccuracies within facial recognition models. In a similar vein IFF staffer Anushka jain argues that in the conversation around AI, visions of the future often obscure the harms already underway – read her recent article for Forbes India now.

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