New study finds AI hype far greater than actual use

As work begins on a major ChatGPT update, figures show public interest in artificial intelligence is far lower than headlines suggest.

a black and white photo of a man's face covered in torn paper

The survey of 12,000 people in six countries, including Argentina, Denmark, France, Japan, USA, and the UK, conducted by the Reuters Institute and Oxford University, found just 2% of British respondents used AI tools on a daily basis. 

Unsurprisingly, young people aged 18-24 were the most eager adopters. Nevertheless, Dr Richard Fletcher, lead author of the study, told BBC News there was a ‘mismatch’ between ‘hype’ and ‘public interest’ in generative artificial intelligence programmes capable of creating imagery, audio and video from text prompts.

Despite relatively low levels of interest and use, research has revealed high expectations these products will have a large impact on society over the next five years, in particular news, science and media. The majority of people believed overall effects would benefit their lives, but were sceptical about how this could change society. Job security, and the fallout on news and information were major concerns. In contrast, there was more optimism about what this means for healthcare and research. 

‘Large parts of the public are not particularly interested in generative AI, and 30% of people in the UK say they have not heard of any of the most prominent products, including ChatGPT,’ said Dr Fletcher.

The numbers have been published as OpenAI, the US developer behind ChatGPT, announced a new safety and security committee as training begins on a new AI model to replace its GPT-4 system. The team is made up of high ranking insiders at the tech startup, whose first job is to evaluate and develop OpenAI processes and safety measures. Recommendations will be made by late-August, before the firm publicly releases those it plans to adopt.

This follows the resignation of research employee Jan Leike, who accused the company of allowing safety to ‘take a backseat to shiny products.’ OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, also resigned, leading to the disbandment of the ‘superalignment’ team, which worked on risks associated with artificial intelligence.

In Scotland, a new national register for public sector AI use is set to become mandatory. The platform will allow users to search for details on machine learning systems, both active and in development at organisations. It will also be possible to engage in consultations on ethics, inclusion, and other issues. 

Image: Erick Butler


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