Closing ‘AI confidence gap’ key to powering its benefits for society and planet

 While some major economies are on course to realize Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) potential, Australia faces one of the greatest confidence gaps linked to low levels of public trust in AI and technology, and risk losing out on the opportunity to use AI as a force for good, a study by BSI reveals. BSI’s Trust in AI Poll of 10,000 adults across nine countries identifies global attitudes towards AI’s potential to improve our society, with more than half  feeling excited about how AI can shape a better future for everyone by improving the accuracy of medical diagnosis and nearly half ( welcoming help from the technology in reducing food waste. 52 per cent (vs 49percent  in Australia) say AI can help create a more energy-efficient built environment.

 

Yet while people are aware of the opportunity for AI, there are low levels of trust in Australia – for example less than a quarter of Australians (22 percent) have more confidence in AI than people to detect food contamination issues, 73 per cent say patients need to be made aware AI tools are being used in diagnosis or treatment, and 60 per cent  feel vulnerable consumers need protections around AI. Equally, while many of Australians currently use AI technology (e.g., 44 percent  use facial recognition for banking) only 20 per cent of Australians recognize that these technologies use AI. There is a clear opportunity for education to build understanding in AI and empower people to collectively harness its capabilities.

 

The research by the business improvement and standards company, BSI, was commissioned to launch the Shaping Society 5.0[1] essay collection, which explores how AI innovations can be an enabler that accelerates progress. It highlights the importance of building greater trust in the technology, as many Australians expect AI to be commonplace by 2030, for example automated lighting at home (41 per cent), automated vehicles (34 per cent ) or biometric identification for travel (45 per cent). Over quarter (25 per cent) expect AI to be regularly used in school within just seven years.

 

Just over three fifths of Australians (64 per cent) want international guidelines to enable the safe use of AI, indicating the importance of guardrails to ensure AI’s safe and ethical use and engender trust. For example, safeguards on ethical use of patient data are important to 47 per cent of Australians.

 

On the contrary, engagement with AI is markedly higher in two of the fastest growing economies [2] China (70 percent) and India (64 per cent ) already use AI every day at work vs 23 per cent  in Australia), while 86 per cent  and 89 per veny expect their industries to use it by 2030 (vs 56 per cent in Australia). Europe has lower levels of adoption (29 per cent UK, 26 per cent  France, 30 per cenct Netherlands, 33 per cent Germany) and Japan has the lowest of all (15 percent). By 2030, 63 per cent of Chinese people anticipate using AI at home.

China and India also display higher current use of AI powered technology, but in fact this is surging globally, with 58 per cent using voice-activated assistants like Alexa (88 per cent in China) and 62 per cent using curated playlists based on past engagement. Yet globally, people lack the awareness that these tools incorporate AI. Nearly half of smartphone users (48 per cent ) are unclear they use the technology, along with 46per cent for voice-activated assistants, 57 per cent  for curated playlists and 50% for chatbots).

There is clear opportunity to harness AI to drive societal progress in Australia. By 2050 three in eight (36 per cent) say a top priority is for AI to help to reduce our impact on the environment, 40 per cent focus on it improving medical diagnosis and one in five (20 per cent) pick AI helping to make society fairer and reducing inequality.

 

Charlene Loo, Managing Director, BSI Australia, said: “AI is a transformational technology. For it to realize its potential to be a powerful force for good, trust needs to be the critical factor.”


“There is a clear opportunity to harness AI to drive societal impact, change lives and accelerate progress towards a better future and a sustainable world. BSI’s Trust in AI findings reveal that Australia has the lowest trust levels in AI globally. Closing the AI confidence gap with education to build understanding can help more Australians realize its benefits, build increased trust, and shape Society 5.0 in a positive way. BSI is proud to be at the forefront of ensuring AI’s safe and trusted integration into everyday lives around the world.”

 

One in six (16 per cent) of Australians say a priority is AI making a four-day work week possible for all. Meanwhile half of Australians (50 per cent ) say AI can be used most effectively to take on tasks’ humans don’t have time for, and 50% say with training they would trust AI to do parts of their job, including the most menial aspects. Notably, the way that Australian men and women view AI in the workplace differs, one in nine of men in Australia (11 per cent ) would trust AI to do all parts of their job, compared to just 8per cent of Australian women.

 

Craig Civil, Director of Data Science and AI, BSI said:

The magnitude of ways AI can shape our future means we are seeing some degree of hesitation of the unknown. This can be addressed by developing greater understanding and recognition that human involvement will always be needed if we are to make best use of this technology, and by ensuring we have frameworks that are in place to govern its use and build trust.

 

“Now is the moment for us to collaborate globally to balance the great power of this tool with the realities of actually using it in a credible, authentic, well-executed, and well-governed way. Closing the confidence gap and building the appropriate checks and balances can enable us to make not just good but great use of AI in every area of life and society.”

 

[1] Society 5.0 is a term that was used by the Japanese Government in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan. It refers to “human-centered society that balances economic and technological advancement to solve society’s problems with super-smart AI data systems”. In this essay collection we use it to refer to a future societal model that we can aspire to.

[2] The International Monetary Fund, 2023

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