AI poll: Most Americans want to slow down artificial intelligence

AI poll: Most Americans want to slow down artificial intelligence

Five months ago, when I published a big piece laying out the case for slowing down AI, it wasn’t exactly mainstream to say that we should pump the brakes on this technology. Within the tech industry, it was practically taboo.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has argued that Americans would be foolish to slow down OpenAI’s progress. “If you are a person of a liberal-democratic country, it is better for you to cheer on the success of OpenAI” rather than “authoritarian governments,” he told the Atlantic. Microsoft’s Brad Smith has likewise argued that we can’t afford to slow down lest China race ahead on AI.

But it turns out the American public does not agree with them. A whopping 72 percent of American voters want to slow down the development of AI, compared to just 8 percent who prefer speeding up, according to new polling from the think tank AI Policy Institute.

The poll, conducted by data analytics firm YouGov, surveyed 1,001 Americans from across the age, gender, and political spectrum: 42 percent of respondents affiliated themselves with Donald Trump and 47 percent with Joe Biden. The racial breakdown was a bit less representative: 73 percent of respondents identified as white, 12 percent as Black, and 7 percent as Hispanic. Most respondents did not have a college degree.

Jack Clark, the CEO of AI safety and research company Anthropic, took note of the survey in his popular newsletter. “These results are interesting because they appear to show a divergence between elite opinion and popular opinion,” he wrote. Specifically, “this survey shows that normal people are much more cautious in their outlook about the technology and more likely to adopt or prefer a precautionary principle when developing the tech.”

Americans are clearly voicing their wish for AI — slow down! —

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