A study by BSI reveals that Australia faces one of the greatest confidence gaps linked to low levels of public trust in AI and technology.
BSI's Trust in AI Poll of 10,000 adults across nine countries identifies global attitudes towards AI's potential to improve society.
More than half (52% vs 41% in Australia) feel excited about how AI can shape a better future for everyone by improving the accuracy of medical diagnosis. Nearly half (49% vs 44% in Australia) welcome help from the technology in reducing food waste. Moreover, 52% (vs 49% in Australia) say AI can help create a more energy-efficient environment.
Yet, while people know the opportunity for AI, there are low levels of trust in Australia. Less than a quarter of Australians (22%) have more confidence in AI than people to detect food contamination issues, 73% say patients need to be made aware AI tools are being used in diagnosis or treatment, and 60% feel vulnerable consumers need protections around AI.
Equally, while many Australians currently use AI technology, only 20% recognise that these technologies use AI. There is a clear opportunity for education to build an understanding of AI and empower people to harness its capabilities collectively.
The research by the business improvement and standards company BSI was commissioned to launch the Shaping Society 5.0 essay collection, which explores how AI innovations can accelerate progress. It highlights the importance of building greater trust in technology, as many Australians expect AI to be commonplace by 2030.
Just over three-fifths of Australians (64%) want international guidelines associated with AI, indicating the importance of guardrails to ensure AI's safe and ethical use and engender trust. For example, safeguards on the ethical use of patient data are important to 47% of Australians.
On the contrary, engagement with AI is markedly higher in two of the fastest-growing economies. China (70%) and India (64%) already use AI every day at work (vs 23% in Australia), while 86% and 89% expect their industries to use it by 2030 (vs 56% in Australia).
Europe has lower levels of adoption (29% UK, 26% France, 30% Netherlands, 33% Germany), and Japan has the lowest of all (15%). By 2030, 63% of Chinese people anticipate using AI at home.
China and India also display higher current use of AI-powered technology. Still, this is surging globally, with 58% using voice-activated assistants like Alexa (88% in China) and 62% using curated playlists based on past engagement.
Yet globally, people lack the awareness that these tools incorporate AI. Nearly half of smartphone users (48%) are unclear about how they use the technology, along with 46% for voice-activated assistants, 57% for curated playlists and 50% for chatbots.
There is an opportunity to harness AI to drive societal progress in Australia. By 2050, three in eight (36%) say a top priority is for AI to help reduce the impact on the environment, 40% focus on improving medical diagnosis, and one in five (20%) want AI to help make society fairer and reduce inequality.
Charlene Loo, Managing Director, BSI Australia, says: "AI is a transformational technology. For it to realise 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 reveals that Australia has the lowest trust levels in AI globally."
"Closing the AI confidence gap with education to build understanding can help more Australians realise its benefits, increase trust, and positively shape Society 5.0. BSI is proud to be at the forefront of ensuring AI's safe and trusted integration into everyday lives worldwide," says Loo.
One in six (16%) Australians say AI is a priority, making a four-day workweek possible for all. Meanwhile, half of Australians (50%) 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.
Notably, the way Australian men and women view AI in the workplace differs; one in nine men in Australia (11%) would trust AI to do all parts of their job, compared to just 8% of Australian women.
Craig Civil, Director of Data Science and AI, BSI, says: "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 a greater understanding and recognising that human involvement will always be needed to make the best use of this technology and by ensuring we have frameworks 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 good but great use of AI in every area of life and society."