61% of Americans believe AI threatens civilization, reveals new poll

Trump supporters were more worried about the technology than Biden ones.
Loukia Papadopoulos
AI posing a threat
AI posing a threat

Arseny Togulev/unsplash 

A Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Wednesday has found that 61 percent of Americans believe artificial intelligence (AI) could threaten civilization.

Only 22 percent disagreed with that statement, and 17 percent remained unsure. The online poll of 4,415 U.S. adults was conducted between May 9 and May 15.

Concerns were higher amongst those who voted for Donald Trump in 2020: 70 percent of Trump supporters, compared to 60 percent of Joe Biden voters, agreed that AI could pose a threat to humankind.

In the meantime, Evangelical Christians were found to be more likely to "strongly agree" that AI presents risks to humanity, at 32 percent standing behind this statement compared to 24 percent of non-Evangelical Christians.

Valid concerns?

Are these concerns legitimate? Experts seem to think so but also argue for AI’s many advantages.

“The concerns are very legitimate, but I think what’s missing in the dialogue, in general, is why are we doing this in the first place?” told Reuters Sebastian Thrun, a computer science professor at Stanford who founded Google X.

“AI will raise peoples’ quality of life and help people be more competent and more efficient.”

"AI has many positive applications, such as revolutionizing drug discovery that do not make headlines like ChatGPT," added Ion Stoica, a UC Berkeley professor who also co-founded AI company Anyscale.

"Americans may not realize how pervasive AI already is in their daily lives, both at home and at work," he said.

"It's telling such a broad swath of Americans worry about the negative effects of AI," told Reuters Landon Klein, director of U.S. policy of the Future of Life Institute, the organization behind a recent open letter demanding a six-month-long halt in AI research and development from all organizations.

 "We view the current moment as similar to the beginning of the nuclear era, and we have the benefit of public perception that is consistent with the need to take action."

However, it should be noted that crime and the economy were higher on the list of Americans’ worries. The same study found that 77 percent support increasing police funding to fight crime, and 82 percent are worried about the risk of a recession.

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