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Emerging Economies More Optimistic about Artificial Intelligence

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According to a new survey, six out of ten expect that products and services using artificial intelligence will profoundly change their daily life in the next three to five years and half feel that this has already happened.

60% of respondents believe that products and services using AI will make their life easier, but four in ten admitted that the use of AI makes them nervous.

These are some of the findings of a 28-country survey conducted by Ipsos for the World Economic Forum of 19,504 adults under the age of 75 between November 19 and December 3, 2021.

“In order to trust artificial intelligence, people must know and understand exactly what AI is, what it’s doing, and its impact,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the World Economic Forum. “Leaders and companies must make transparent and trustworthy AI a priority as they implement this technology. At the World Economic Forum, we are focused on multistakeholder collaboration to optimize accountability, transparency, privacy and impartiality to create that trust. With the ability to solve many of society’s pressing issues, we are focused on accelerating the benefits and mitigating the risks of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Only then can we gain public trust and benefit from the rewards of emerging tech like AI.”

Familiarity with Artificial Intelligence

For the purpose of this survey, AI was defined as “computers and robots doing things which traditionally require human intelligence.”

On average for all 28 countries surveyed, almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents claimed that they have a good understanding of what AI is, based on this definition. However only half (50%) said that they knew which types of products and services use AI.

Reported familiarity with AI varied among demographic groups, with business decision-makers (74%), those with a university degree (71%), and those in their country’s upper-income tier (71%) most likely to report a good understanding of it. On average, men were also more likely to say that they understand AI than women were.

Geographic variations were even broader. “Good understanding of AI” ranged from lows of 41% in Japan and 42% in Italy, to highs of 78% in South Africa, 76% in Chile, and 75% in Russia. Reported knowledge of which products and services use AI ranged from 32% in Japan to 76% in China.

Impact of artificial intelligence on daily life

While a majority of global respondents agreed that AI is likely to profoundly change everyday life, certain sectors were expected to experience more noticeable levels of change than others. The areas that people expect to change the most due to AI are education and learning (cited by 35%), safety (33%), employment (32%), shopping (31%), and transportation (30%).

Citizens of emerging economies were significantly more likely than those from more economically developed countries to expect AI to significantly impact daily life.

Some 80% of respondents in China and Saudi Arabia expect AI to change their life, but less than half in Canada, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and the U.S. do.

Similarly, when asked whether AI would make their lives easier or better, respondents were more likely to be optimistic in less economically developed countries. For example, 76% in Saudi Arabia, and 70% in Peru agreed that AI would have more benefits than drawbacks, as opposed to only 31% in France, 32% in Canada, and 35% in the U.S.

The areas that people expected AI to impact most positively were education and learning (77%), entertainment (77%), transportation (74%), and the home (73%).

However, the global public was evenly divided on its benefits when it comes to income (better for only 53%), personal and family relationships (50%), and employment (47%).

Only four in ten expect AI to improve costs of living (42%) and freedom and legal rights (37%).

In certain countries, the percentage of those expecting a positive impact varied little across different categories. However, in several others (such as Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Turkey and the US) opinions about which areas AI will improve vary far more widely. For example, 79% of Italians and 72% of Americans think AI will improve their home, but only 19% and 16%, respectively think it will improve their freedom and legal rights.

Trust in companies that use artificial intelligence technologies

Only half of respondents (50%) say that they trust companies that use AI as much as those that don’t. Trust in companies that use AI was again highly correlated with reported familiarity with AI.

There was a wide divide between emerging countries and high-income countries. A majority of respondents in emerging countries said they trusted companies that use AI as much as other companies, most notably in China (where 76% said they trusted such companies), Saudi Arabia (73%), and India (68%). In contrast, only about one-third of survey respondents in many high-income countries were trusting of AI-powered companies, including Canada (34%), France (34%), the U.S. (35%), Great Britain (35%), and Australia (36%).