Perspectives of Policy Influencers and the American Public on Artificial Intelligence
From the economy to healthcare to education, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to reshape nearly every aspect of our lives. The launch of ChatGPT put AI technology in the hands of everyday Americans and spurred a national conversation about this emerging technology. Eager to avoid previous policy missteps related to internet governance, policymakers have focused on the subject of AI with urgency. Following Congressional hearings on topics including governance frameworks, misinformation, and American innovation, President Biden issued an expansive Executive Order in late October to address mounting concerns about AI and set standards for future development.
To assess American attitudes towards AI and its governance, BlueLabs conducted a multi-modal survey of the general US adult population in August 2023. The results revealed deep concern about the impacts of AI on jobs and society, as well as a desire to see companies held responsible for their technology. We also studied policy influencers’ responses compared to the general population; these policy influencers include people who have the power to affect legislative priorities and sway public opinion, such as elected officials, Congressional staffers, business executives, and journalists.
More than a fifth of the American public is unsure about how AI will impact society. This uncertainty underscores the need for greater information and education for both the general public and policy leaders. Furthermore, 18% of the American public and 16% of policy influencers expressed uncertainty over how AI will affect jobs in their state.
Survey respondents were most concerned about AI challenges related to privacy and data use, intellectual property, and misinformation. While 3 in 10 policy influencers are optimistic about AI’s impacts on society, more than half of the country believes that AI will have a negative impact and decrease jobs.
A Policy Opportunity
Regardless of whether people are optimistic or pessimistic about AI, nearly three-quarters of the US population wants AI to be regulated. Policy influencers may be more optimistic about AI than the general public, but they also want more oversight. More than 8 in 10 policy influencers said they supported government regulation of AI.
While it’s not surprising that Democrats are more likely to favor AI regulation than Republicans, it is notable that there is strong bipartisan support for companies to be held liable for the content that their technology produces. In fact, nearly 9 in 10 Americans—including 87% of Republicans—strongly or somewhat agree that companies should be held legally responsible for AI-produced content.
Effectively Engaging American Policy Influencers
As lawmakers, civil society, academia, and AI experts continue discourse around the best way to balance regulation, innovation, safety, and competition, among other areas, there is an opportunity for public affairs campaigns to help shape the future of AI governance by educating and engaging policy influencers.
In addition to regularly conducting surveys of policy influencers to assess attitudes towards emerging technologies, BlueLabs builds predictive models that allow organizations to reach and engage individuals that may not have made up their mind on a topic. Furthermore, we leverage models of media usage and experimental methods to understand which messages best inspire people at the individual level – ensuring that the right audiences receive the right message on the right platform.
In this way, we can understand policymakers’ priorities, identify content that resonates with them, and build a mutual understanding of how best to encourage responsible AI innovation that maximizes benefits and reduces harms.
Full results from the survey can be found here.
This poll was conducted among a random national population of 2,422 American adults from August 22-30, 2023, including 220 policy influencers. Results are of people who said that they were familiar with AI and tabulations are reported as percentage points rounded to the nearest whole number. Surveys were conducted via cell, landline, online, and text-to-web, and post-survey weighting was applied. Policy influencers include people with the power to shape public opinion, such as state and federal elected officials and their staffs, federal appointees and bureaucrats, corporate executives and business leaders, journalists, and subject-matter experts.