Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Amid the Rise of AI, Excitement and Concern Are Growing

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By The VCU Wilder School Office of Research and Outreach
September 1, 2023

For many people, setting a morning alarm clock involves nothing more than asking a virtual assistant such as Siri or Alexa to wake them up at a certain time. After being woken up, some people then use a semi-autonomous vehicle to drive to work. While there, maybe they use chatGPT to assist in writing a document, or use a chat bot to help answer their customer service questions. In all of these scenarios, people are using artificial intelligence (AI) to make their daily lives easier and more efficient.

While many are embracing the rise of AI, others have concerns. In order to better understand how Virginians feel about the increasing use of AI, and about how AI will impact our future, we included AI-related questions in our August 2023 Wilder School Commonwealth Poll.

When asked whether they think the development of AI will be a more positive or negative change for American society, the majority of Virginians (53 percent) said they believe the effect will be negative, while 30 percent believe that the changes will be positive.

This poll was obtained via telephone interviews with a representative sample of 804 adults, ages 18 or older, living in Virginia, from July 14-25, 2023. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. A two-stage weighting procedure was used to weight this dual-frame sample by the demographic characteristics of gender, age, education, race, ethnicity, Hispanic origin, region of residence and personal phone use. The margin of error was ±5.46 percentage points. 

When we consider demographic differences in response, younger people were more likely than older people to believe that the changes will be positive, with 46 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 citing a positive impact of AI, compared with 25 percent of those 55 and older and 23 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds. Responses also varied by ethnicity and race, with 46 percent of Hispanic or Latino Virginians believing that the effect of AI will be more positive, compared with 27 percent of white Virginians and 18 percent of Black Virginians.  

These findings were similar to those of national polls. In March 2022, the Pew Research Center asked Americans if they lean toward concern or excitement regarding the increased use of AI in daily life. Like in the Commonwealth Poll, fewer (18 percent) participants said that they were more excited than concerned, while a greater number (37 percent) said that they were more concerned than excited. Forty-five percent said that they felt equally concerned and excited.

The poll also asked “In the next 10 to 20 years, how likely do you think it is that AI will perform most of the job tasks that people do now?”

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Virginians said they believe it is likely or very likely that AI will perform most of the job tasks that people do now in the next 10 to 20 years. Black Virginians (85 percent) and Independents (82 percent) were the most likely to hold this belief. These perspectives are shared across the United States and worldwide, with some estimates saying that AI could eventually replace 300 million full-time jobs.

Out of curiosity, I asked chatGPT to write the closing paragraph of this article. Here’s what it came up with:

“The future of AI holds tremendous potential as it continues to evolve and integrate into various aspects of our lives. Advancements in machine learning, natural language processing and robotics are paving the way for AI to become more intelligent, versatile and capable. We can expect AI to play a crucial role in industries such as healthcare, automating diagnoses and treatment plans, as well as in environmental modeling and disaster response, aiding and predicting natural calamities. However, ethical concerns and the need for responsible AI development will remain paramount to ensure that as AI systems become more sophisticated, they are designed to benefit humanity while respecting privacy, security and fairness. As AI technologies become more accessible, collaboration between humans and AI is likely to flourish, leading to innovative solutions that address complex challenges across the globe.”

Overall, that’s a pretty well-written conclusion and the final sentence is especially promising. By “collaborating” with AI, by seeing it as a tool that can be used to help us and by ensuring that the human element in our communications and daily interactions is not lost, AI has great potential. As humans rely more and more on AI, proceeding with cautious excitement may be the best path forward.

Author: The Wilder School’s Office of Research and Outreach advances research and training that informs public policy and decisionmaking to improve our communities. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of Wilder School faculty, we provide services including leadership development and training, economic and policy impact analysis, survey insights and program evaluation to clients in governments, nonprofits, businesses and the public, across Virginia and beyond. Twitter: @VCUWilderSchool

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *