Most UK adults fear AI will take their jobs

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

The UK public is wary of the impact artificial intelligence (AI) could have on jobs and their personal data but, weirdly, still feel it will be a force for good, new research has found. 

Fountech.ai, an AI think tank and development company, commissioned an independent, nationally-representative survey of more than 2,000 UK adults. 

It found two thirds (67%) of people are worried AI will result in jobs being lost to machines.

Idle thoughts: What will humans do in a post AI society?

AI in retail “creepy”  

It also showed the majority of Britons (58%) think AI tools that recommend products to customers – such as the software used by Amazon and Netflix – are creepy. 

A similar number (59%) have become more nervous about the way their personal data is collected and used since the rise of AI.

We’re all doomed

A clearly nervous quarter (24%) of respondents even think AI could be responsible for the end of humankind, but don't start digging the bunker just yet, because three fifths (62%) of people believe AI will do more good to the world around us than it will harm.

Elsewhere, Fountech.ai’s research highlighted an underlying lack of awareness when it comes to AI and its already widespread uses. In fact, 37% of UK adults said they do not fully understand what the term “artificial intelligence” means.

Furthermore, only 30% claim to regularly use technologies that are powered by AI. This is despite the fact that popular tools such as Google’s search engine, Siri, most major email providers and Facebook – as well as the aforementioned Amazon and Netflix platforms – all use AI.

Regulation of AI

One in three (31%) respondents said they do not think AI will ever be able to truly replicate the cognitive ability of humans. 

Nevertheless, three quarters (74%) want to see the UK government do more to govern the way AI technologies are developed and used.

Fear factor: Fountech.ai CEO Nikolas Kairinos says AI is misunderstood

“People tend to fear what they don’t understand, and today’s research is an example of this”, Nikolas Kairinos, CEO and founder of Fountech, said. 

“For decades, AI has been misrepresented in sci-fi movies and literary fiction, but we should not let this blinker our view of how this amazing technology can enhance the world around us.

Upside of AI 

“AI can solve problems and achieve tasks that we previously considered impossible – it will undoubtedly open doors to countless opportunities so we can make the world a better place. 

“Importantly, as this study shows, the technology must be harnessed and used in the right way – the ethical questions surrounding the development of AI will rightly remain until both governments and businesses show they are applying it in responsible, safe ways.”