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The American Public is Already Worried about AI Catastrophe


Concern about risks from artificial intelligence is common at all income levels and for all backgrounds.

A new report suggests Americans are concerned about artificial intelligence.

Credit: Javier Zarracina/Vox

For decades, some researchers have been arguing that general artificial intelligence will, if improperly deployed, harm and possibly endanger humanity. For a long time, these worries were unheard of or on the back burner for most people—AI looked to be a long way away.

In the past few years, though, that has been changing. We've seen major advances in what AI systems can do—and a new report from the Center for the Governance of AI suggests that many people are concerned about where AI will lead next.

"People are not convinced that advanced AI will be to the benefit of humanity," Allan Dafoe, an associate professor of international politics of artificial intelligence at Oxford and a co-author of the report, told me.

The Center for the Governance of AI is part of Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute. The new report, by Dafoe and Yale's Baobao Zhang, is based on a 2018 survey of 2,000 U.S. adults.

There are two big surprises in the report. The first is that the median respondent expects big developments in AI within the next decade—and, relatedly, the median respondent is nearly as concerned with "big picture" AI concerns like artificial general intelligence as with concerns like data privacy and cyberattacks.

The second is that concern about risks from AI, often stereotyped as a concern exclusively of Silicon Valley software engineers inflating the importance of their own work, is actually common at all income levels and for all backgrounds—with low-income people and women being the most concerned about AI.

 

From Vox
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