September 27, 2019

76% of Brits want more say in AI development, finds Samsung report

By Robert Scammell

Whether it’s saving a life or driving you to work, 76% of the British public want more say in how artificial intelligence (AI) systems are developed, according to research conducted by Samsung.

In a survey of 5,250 people age 13 and over, Samsung sought to gain an insight into the country’s views of AI.

Overall, a slight majority (51%) believe that AI will have a positive impact on society, versus 16% who feel negatively about the technology’s effects.

From speeding up medical diagnosis to mental health chatbots, AI has already demonstrated many benefits in the healthcare sector. That’s something 63% of the public is looking forward to more of, as well as giving more autonomy to the elderly and those with disabilities (56%).

Concerns over AI bias

However, 39% of the public voiced concerns about AI bias, rising to 43% among those who described themselves as interested in AI. The technology industry’s diversity problem is well documented, with the majority of those designing AI systems white and male.

When AI reflects the biases of the select few designing AI systems, or the data used to train them, it can have harmful effects on large swathes of the population.

For example, some facial recognition software has been found to be more accurate on white men, increasing the risk of false identification for women and minorities. Almost a third (31%) of those surveyed believe that bias in AI will be exacerbated for groups that already face discrimination.

AI development: Engagement is key

Samsung’s findings also revealed that 70% fear AI and humans will one day come into conflict. Film franchises such as the Terminator have likely had an impact in shaping these views, as well as sensationalist headlines and doomsday comments by tech leaders such as Elon Musk. However, to caveat this, just 15% see it is a significant issue.

Notably, those who said they were engaged with AI and had a good understanding of it were far more likely to feel positive about AI’s potential: 70% of those more familiar with AI felt positive, while just 34% of those unfamiliar felt positive.

Samsung conducted the research as part of its newly launched Fair Future initiative to make AI easier for everyone to understand.

Hannah Fry, associate professor in the mathematics of cities at University College London, has given her backing to the initiative.

“It’s difficult to imagine an industry that will be untouched by AI – from how we travel, to how we diagnose and treat medical conditions or sentence criminals,” said Fry, author of Hello World. “The changes that are coming are going to affect all of us – for better or worse – and we all deserve a say in what our future should look like.

“That’s why it’s so important to open the doors to a national conversation. It’s why I’m enormously proud to be part of this project, to de-mystify artificial intelligence, to take stock of the public’s attitude to AI, and to hear people’s concerns. To do so in a way that invites rather than excludes and to allow everyone to be a part of shaping the way ahead.”

Fair Future initiative: AI to benefit all

The Fair Future initiative will involve an online hub to provide people with information about AI, as well as touring the country to engage with communities.

Teg Dosanjh, director of connected living for Samsung UK and Ireland, said: “Over the past few years, we, the tech industry, have not done a good job at making AI understandable to everyday people.

“People feel disconnected and unable to influence the technology that will shape the way they live in future. This needs to change if AI is going to become a technology that benefits human beings and helps everyone in society.”

Read more: Just one in four organisations treating AI ethics as a priority: PwC

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