Artificial intelligence (AI) may have been billed as the next frontier in enhancing automation, but women and older Australians believe it will create more problems than it solves.
A Roy Morgan survey released this week reveals that 57 per cent of Australians aren’t convinced that the technology some are billing as the biggest thing since the internet is actually going to be a worthwhile pursuit for humankind.
Females (62 per cent) are far more likely to agree that AI creates more problems than it solves, compared to males (52 per cent).
The majority of those aged over 50 also agreed, while only a slim majority of younger Australians (51 per cent of those aged under 35) think AI is as good as the hype.
The Roy Morgan survey found that regional and rural-dwelling Australians are also more sceptical of AI.
In fact, a clear majority (61 per cent) of people living in the bush agree that AI creates more problems than it solves, compared to 56 per cent of people living in capital cities.
Incredibly, one in five Australians hold grave concerns about the technological advancement, declaring that AI presents a risk of human extinction in the next two decades.
This breakdown is fairly consistent across demographics, but there are some groups who are more likely than others to say AI poses a threat of extinction in the next 20 years including respondents aged 50 to 64 (25 per cent), and respondents in Tasmania (37 per cent), Western Australia and Perth (both 26 per cent) and Melbourne (24 per cent).
One of the big concerns many of those who took part in the survey have centres on the potential for mass job losses, along with the need for greater regulation to ensure that AI isn’t misused.
One respondent said: “AI will create unemployment and further stupefy the population. Meanwhile, we allow a technology with a greater capability to change life as humans have known it for millennia.”
Another said: “As the law is not keeping up with AI, we need laws to protect our rights to privacy, and to protect our children from any form or surveillance, abuse, intimidation or misuse of AI.”
Other respondents commented on the potential for corrupt people and organisations to misuse the technology and the fact that it could result in more excuses to stop funding the nation’s education system.
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said that while many Australians can see the benefits of AI, they are also concerned about the risks and see a clear need for tighter regulation.
“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,” Levine says.
“Australians feel there is a clear need for regulation in the AI space, to ensure that these risks can be adequately managed,” she says.
Nik Samoylov, coordinator of the Campaign for AI Safety, says the poll shows widespread community apprehension about AI, especially when it comes to job security.
The poll suggests that people want government regulation to deal with these issues, including unknown consequences and new problems that AI will create.
“Most Australians are pessimistic about AI, especially when it comes to job security and opportunities for misuse.
“The Australian government doesn’t have time to delay AI regulation, not to delay banning the development of dangerous AI that can be misused or cause grave accidents,” Samoylov says.
Meanwhile, a group of big tech companies including Apple, Meta and Google have been cautioning the Australian government on being too heavy-handed when it comes to AI rules and regulations.
Digital Industry Group (DIGI) argues that rushing in new laws could hamper AI innovation and development.
However, there is also broad agreeance that Australia needs tougher laws on AI to prevent the misuse of the technology.