Widespread public concern over AI use, regulation needed: Poll

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 2, 2019
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A delegate plays rock-paper-scissors with a robot at an exhibition space of the 2019 Summer Davos in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning province, on July 1, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

A significant portion of the global population is concerned about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and believes that greater oversight is needed over the use of the new technology, according to a poll published during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, known as the Summer Davos on Monday in Dalian, Liaoning province.

The opinion poll, commissioned by the World Economic Forum, surveys the attitudes of over 20,000 people across 27 countries. According to the poll, 41% of respondents said that they were worried about the use of AI, compared to 27% who disagreed and 32% who said they were undecided.

Almost half of the respondents agreed that AI use by companies should be more strictly regulated.

Skepticism toward the use of AI was diminished when it came to governments, with relatively fewer people — 40% — believing that current restrictions needed to be tightened, according to the poll.

However, the study found that society still overwhelmingly believed in the inherent potential of the technology to do good, as only 19% of people said that the use of AI should be banned altogether.

"Artificial intelligence is one of the most powerful tools we have as a society," said Kay Firth-Butterfield, head of Artificial Intelligence at the World Economic Forum. "But, without a governance structure to provide the guardrails for how we interact with this, we risk leaving large parts of the population behind."

He added that he hoped AI applications should try to maximize the benefits of the technology while minimizing its risks.

A report released by Accenture, a global professional service company, during the Dalian event, said that AI has become a general-purpose technology which has a transformative impact not lesser than the discovery of electricity and the invention of the internal combustion engine. However, it added that without solid governance, AI could bring potential business, economic and social risks.

Anand Rao, PwC's global artificial intelligence leader, said that artificial intelligence is already changing the operations of many organizations, and they should prepare themselves to use AI responsibly, so that it strengthens business and society as a whole.

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