The latest research from digital identity security specialists, ID Crypt Global, reveals that 80% of the UK public believe Jeremy Hunt’s recent Autumn Statement announcement of increased government investment into the AI sector is money that would be better spent elsewhere.
In his recent Autumn Statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremey Hunt, announced that the government will invest a further £500 million in AI research and development over the next two years, which will ‘allow researchers and SMEs to develop new foundation models and maximise the UK’s potential in AI’.
But how do the people of the UK feel about their government pledging this sort of investment at a time when the economy seems to be hanging on by a thread? To find out, ID Crypt commissioned a survey of 1,052 members of the UK public, asking them what they thought about Mr Hunt’s recent pledge.
The results show that news of another £500 million investment into AI is not particularly popular among the people of the UK, with 68% saying they do not welcome the announcement.
More directly, 79% say that the money could be better spent on other areas of the economy at such a financially difficult time.
While it’s clear that most people would like to see government spending directed elsewhere, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some real concerns in the UK about the rise of AI.
When asked to select the words that most accurately describe their feelings towards AI, the most common responses were ‘worried’ (24%), and ‘nervous’ (20%). But it’s also worth noting that 14% describe themselves as feeling ‘hopeful’.
And that corner of hope exists because of the many positive impacts that AI can have on our society if handled correctly.
When asked which AI applications will prove to be most useful for society over the next five years, the most common response was ‘medical diagnosis’ (28%), followed by ‘fraud detection/prevention’ (24%), and ‘security and surveillance’ (15%).
In fact, so vast and varied are the potential applications of AI that there is a real chance it will start to replace humans in the workplace and this is something that 70% of the UK say they’re worried about.
And, to take things a step further, a massive 80% of people report having concerns about a future in which humans have ‘lost control’ of AI.
CEO and Founder of ID Crypt Global, Lauren Wilson-Smith, said, “It seems fair to say that here in the UK, our relationship with, and sentiment towards, AI is complex. We acknowledge its importance yet believe government investment is better focussed elsewhere, at least for now. We appreciate the positive applications of AI while remaining hyper-aware of the dangers and downsides.
In other words, I don’t think many of us know what to do. From both action and inaction there spawn positive and negative outcomes.
But the truth of the matter is that the government has no choice but to invest heavily in AI research right now. There is no question that it will soon redefine how humans operate in the world, so they cannot be seen to be sitting on their hands, heads in the sand. We just have to hope that the money is used wisely, and placed into the hands of the right people, with the proper precautionary measures implemented along the way.”