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Australians most nervous globally about AI – report
Thu, 13th Jul 2023

Australians are the most nervous about artificial intelligence of any country globally, Ipsos new Global Advisor survey has revealed.

The survey, which examined responses to AI across 31 countries, showed Australia was the top country worldwide to be worried about AI, with 69% of respondents saying they felt nervous about the technology.

Globally, more than half the respondents (52%) said they were nervous about AI a significant increase on the previous Ipsos survey, conducted 18 months ago.

Just 40% of Australians said they were excited about AI, well below the global average of 54%.

Majorities in all 31 countries expect AI-powered products and services to profoundly change their daily life in the coming years. While there is optimism about time management and entertainment options, there is also widespread concern about negative impacts on employment.

The sentiment is similar in Australia: nearly a third of Australians think AI will replace their current job, while only a quarter of people think AI will be good for the economy; even less (20%) think it will be good for the job market.

Despite a surge in new AI applications, the percentage of Australian adults who say they know or understand the types of products and services that use AI remains well-below the international figures.

Globally, half of respondents said they know what products and services use AI; Australians fell well below that at 38%. Additionally, two in three Australians (59%) said they had a good understanding of AI, which was also below the global average of 67%.

However, one constant across the board is the divide between generally AI-enthusiastic emerging markets and AI-wary high-income countries. Trust and excitement about AI also tends to be higher among younger generations, especially Gen Z, and among those with a higher income or education levels.

In Australia, only 44% of respondents said they trusted AI, and only 38% think it will protect their personal data.

"Australians are overwhelmingly nervous about the rapid evolution of AI and the impact it will have in the coming years on the domestic economy and the job market," says Ipsos Australia Director, David Elliott. 

"AI has long had an image problem in Australia people are generally afraid of it, don't understand it and how it works, and are worried about the safety and security of their personal data. 

"There is a need for mass education around the technology, particularly its potential in increasing workplace efficiencies and improving day-to-day life."

These are some of the findings of a survey of 22,816 adults under the age of 75 conducted between May 26 and June 9, 2023, on the Ipsos Global Advisor online survey platform in 30 countries and mostly face-to-face in India. The survey results shed light on the evolving perceptions and expectations of AI among consumers worldwide, revealing both excitement and apprehension about its potential impact on various aspects of life.

Detailed findings:

Understanding of AI is still lagging
On average across the 31 countries surveyed, two-thirds (67%) say they have a good understanding of what AI is, but only half (51%) say they know which products and services use AI.

Knowledge of what products and services use AI is higher among younger adults, men, those who are employed, more educated, and/or more affluent.

In a typical pattern, familiarity with AI-powered products and services ranges from over 70% in Indonesia and Malaysia to just 35% in Belgium, New Zealand, and the United States.

Reported understanding of AI has increased slightly over the past 18 months, but familiarity with which products and services use AI has barely changed since Ipsos previous global survey on AI in December 2021. This suggests that, while AI is becoming more prevalent, there hasn't been a corresponding increase in consumer awareness of the role AI plays in different technologies they use daily.

Mixed feelings and increased nervousness
On average across the 31 countries, only about half of respondents agree that AI-based services have more benefits than drawbacks (54%) and are excited about them (also 54%).

However, about the same number (52%) are nervous about AI-based products and services. Across the 24 countries included in both the previous and new surveys, this represents an average increase of 12 percentage points. This suggests that the global public is increasingly concerned about being negatively impacted by AI technology as it evolves.

Excitement about AI is highest in emerging markets and lowest in Europe and North America; it is also higher among Gen Zers and Millennials, as well as the college-educated.

Nervousness is highest in all the predominantly English-speaking countries. It is lowest in Japan, South Korea, and Eastern Europe.

Wide geographic differences in trust
Trust in AI varies widely by region, generally being much higher in emerging markets and among people under 40 than in high-income countries and among Gen Xers and Boomers.

People's trust that companies using AI will protect their personal information ranges from 72% in Thailand to just 32% in France, Japan, and the United States. The percentage of people who trust that AI will not discriminate against groups of people shows an even wider spread across countries.

Just half say AI has impacted their life in the past few years
Globally, just half (49%) say AI-based products and services have significantly changed their daily lives in the past three to five years, about the same percentage as in December 2021.

In South Korea and across Southeast Asia, the percentage feeling this way is about 35 to 40 percentage points higher than in most countries in Northwestern Europe and North America.

It is also, on average, at least 20 points higher among Gen Zers and Millennials than among Boomers.

But two in three expect it will soon change it profoundly
On average, 66% agree that AI-powered products and services will significantly change their daily life in the next three to five years, including majorities in all countries (from 82% in South Korea to 51% in France) and all demographic groups (but especially among the more affluent and those with a college education).

Among workers, 57% expect AI to change the way they do their current job and 36% expect it to replace their current job.

The percentages of workers expecting each type of disruption are highest in Southeast Asia and lowest in Northern Europe (with differences of up to 50 points) and are also much higher among those who are younger and/or decision makers than among those who are not.

Not all changes are expected to be for the better
Globally, slightly more than half expect that increased use of AI will give them more time to get things done and improve their entertainment options.

Only one in three or slightly more say it will improve their health, their job, and their country's economy.

More say it will make the job market worse than better.
Again, optimism about AI is much higher in the global South than in high-income countries, and among younger and highly educated adults than among those who are older or have no college education.