A special Roy Morgan SMS Survey of 1,481 Australians aged 16+, conducted in conjunction with the Campaign for AI Safety, shows a sizeable majority of 57% of Australians believe artificial intelligence (AI) creates more problems than it solves.
One in five (20%) Australians believe AI presents a risk of human extinction in the next twenty years.
Females, older Australians, and regional Australians are more sceptical of AI
Females (62%) are far more likely to agree that artificial intelligence (AI) creates more problems than it solves, compared to males (52%).
A large majority of those aged over 50 also agreed, (65% of 50-64-year-olds and 64% of those aged 65+); whilst only a slim majority of younger Australians agreed (51% of those aged under 35).
Those in regional and rural areas were more likely to be sceptical of artificial intelligence (AI) than those in the capital cities. A clear majority of 61% of people in regional and rural Australia agreed that AI creates more problems than it solves, compared to 56% of those in the capital cities.
One in five (20%) Australians believe AI presents a risk of human extinction in the next two decades – though many are less worried
While a clear majority of 80% of Australians say that artificial intelligence (AI) does not pose a risk of human extinction in the next two decades, 20% say yes, it does.
This breakdown is fairly consistent across different demographics but there are some groups that are more likely than others to say that AI poses a threat of extinction in the next twenty years including respondents aged 50-64 (25%), and respondents in Tasmania (37%), Western Australia and Perth (both 26%) and Melbourne (24%).
Those respondents who agreed that AI creates more problems than it solves were around three times more likely to say AI poses the risk of human extinction (28%) compared to 10% for those who disagree that AI creates more problems than it solves.
Job losses and the need for greater regulation are seen as the biggest reasons AI creates more problems than it solves
Among those who agreed that AI creates more problems than it solves (57% of respondents), the most common reasons given for agreeing with this statement was the potential for job losses, followed by the need for regulation and the ability for AI to be misused.
Examples of open-ended reasons given by respondents for why they agree that AI creates more problems than it solves are:
“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.”
“It creates more excuses to stop funding our education system and takes away jobs from those who have built their skills around writing.”
“I think it’s not well regulated and the issues have not been thought thorough so that now the technology has sped ahead of our thinking with regards to ethics, plagiarism, creativity and jobs.”
“It is an unregulated technology that can cause great harm when used by business and governments in a detrimental, criminal manner.”
“Problems lie in how we use and regulate AI, not AI itself – like nuclear technology, guns or knives.”
“In current times when society’s norms and values are so blurred and there are no practical checks on where and how AI is used, it creates many options to abuse this technology.”
“The concepts of AI itself and what it can achieve sounds wonderful, but we live in a fallen world and there is unfortunately the potential for AI to become corrupted or used for the wrong purposes.”
“It is too easy for it to be used by corrupt individuals and organisations for dishonest purposes.”
“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 of surveillance, abuse, intimidation or misuse of AI.”
Those that believe that AI solves more problems than it creates believe AI will lead to a better society, and can be beneficial when used correctly
Among those who believe that AI solves more problems than it creates (43% of respondents), the most common reasons given are for the potential betterment of society, that the technology is beneficial if used correctly, and that the pros outweigh the cons.
Examples of open-ended reasons given by respondents for why they agree that AI solves more problems than it creates are:
“It will be useful for solutions to all sorts of problems that we haven’t solved yet. It can aid us and we should be cautious but not scared of the future.”
“If programmed properly complex decision making should be better because of the amount of data that AI can process. Phone apps to encourage medicine adherence in remote areas would be fantastic – there are many positive uses of AI.”
“Because AI has the potential to tackle the most difficult social and environmental challenges especially in the computer science areas.”
“AI now runs nearly all infrastructure that helps create a better society. It provides convenience and security.”
“As a human race we thrive and grow on innovation and progress. I believe if used with controls AI can be extremely beneficial.”
“It’s too early to tell, but so far the conveniences from AI have been beneficial.”
“There are far more instances where AI has been beneficial rather than a problem.”
“People using AI may create problems, not the AI technology itself. It can be so beneficial when used correctly in art, automation, learning. Endless possibilities to grow and aid human capability.”
“AI has the potential to improve everyone’s lives, and I believe there is still time to regulate against at least some of the harm that it may do.”
“It is part of the progression of technology that on the whole continually improves our quality of life.”
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says that while many Australians see the benefits of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, 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.
“Australians feel there is a clear need for regulation in the AI space, to ensure that these risks can be adequately managed.
“Surprisingly, one in five (20%) of us are so concerned about the rise of AI, that we think there is a real risk of the extinction of the human race at the hands of AI in the next two decades.”
Nik Samoylov, coordinator of the Campaign for AI Safety, says that the poll shows widespread community apprehension about AI, especially when it comes to job security.
“Most Australians are pessimistic about artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to job security and opportunities for misuse.
“The poll suggests that people want government regulation to deal with these issues, including unknown consequences and new problems that AI will create.
“One in five Australians anticipates the risk of human extinction from AI in the next twenty years. The Australian government does not have time to delay AI regulation, nor to delay banning the development of dangerous AI that can be misused or cause grave accidents.”
This special Roy Morgan Snap SMS survey was conducted in conjunction with the ‘Campaign for AI Safety’ with an Australia-wide cross-section of 1,481 Australians aged 16+ from 9–11 August 2023.
For further comment or more information contact:
Michele Levine 0411 129 093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nik Samoylov 0410 758 649 or email email@example.com.
Australians surveyed were asked the following questions:
- Question 1: "Do you agree or disagree that 'Overall, artificial intelligence (AI) creates more problems than it solves?" (50% of sample) or its inverse "Do you agree or disagree that 'Overall, artificial intelligence (AI) solves more problems than it creates'?"
- Question 2: “What makes you Agree/Disagree that "Overall, artificial intelligence (AI) solves more problems than it creates/creates more problems than it solves"?
- Question 3: “Do you believe artificial intelligence (AI) presents a risk of human extinction in the next two decades?”
About Roy Morgan
Roy Morgan is the source of the most comprehensive data on Australians’ behaviour and attitudes, surveying over 1,000 people weekly in a continuous cycle that has been running for two decades. The company has more than 80 years’ experience collecting objective, independent information.
About Campaign for AI Safety
The Campaign for AI Safety (CAS) is an Australian association of people who are concerned about the dangers of AI. The campaign aims to increase public understanding of the dangers related to AI and encourage regulation to prevent biosecurity risks, the use of autonomous weapons, the development of uncontrollable and overly capable AI, and the risk of human extinction from AI.
Margin of Error
The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.
|Sample Size||Percentage Estimate|
|40% – 60%||25% or 75%||10% or 90%||5% or 95%|