Public perception will play a critical role in AI adoption

Mar 11, 2021

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The public’s perception of AI will affect not only how consumers adopt AI-enabled products and services, but also how companies and policymakers address the technology’s transformative power, according to a recent report from LG titled AIX Exchange. LG announced the direction of AI in CES2020 with Element AI, titled AI Experience : The Future of AI and Human Experience. Related to this AIX(AI Experience) Framework, this reportwhich brought together 12 of the world’s leading experts in AI to discuss the themes of Ethics, Transparency, User Experience, Context, Relationships, and Public Perception, and to present distinct challenges for the future of human-centric AI.

The report examines six areas that play a significant role in shaping the public’s perception of AI, and how designers and developers of AI products must confront two potential barriers to AI adoption – pop culture and a healthy dose of skepticism among consumers about how technology interacts with their lives and shapes the world they want to live in.


News/Pop Culture

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that, for many people, their exposure to AI is the sometimes apocalyptic way in which it is depicted in pop culture or the negative news stories about AI projects gone wrong. Just say, “I’ll be back,” and most will instantly think of The Terminator, a film released in 1984. 

While Hollywood may portray AI taken to extreme measures, pop culture’s impact certainly cannot be ignored as it shapes how people will adopt the technology and trust the developers behind it.

 

Language of AI

Our words hold power and can often convey unintended messages and drive unintended behavior. Words can also produce misunderstandings about AI’s learning process.

“I think people use words to describe what an AI system is doing, that then get overgeneralized,” explains renowned roboticist and AI researcher Rodney Brooks in his interview. “When we say a system is learning something, people who are not familiar with AI may think of every possible use of the word ‘learning’. Learning can mean ‘I learned to ride a bicycle.’ which is very different from ‘I learned ancient Latin’….. it’s better to say that the system ‘adapts to a specific set of circumstances’. That sort of promise sets the expectation for ordinary consumers, for how the AI system is going to change and how much.”

 

Marketing

Expectation-setting for AI can start with how these products and services are marketed. Many of the existing AI products on the market today perform quite well at relatively simple tasks, such as monitoring and automatically adjusting room temperature, or capturing physical activity levels. But we are now moving into a realm where the industry is promising self-driving cars, refrigerators that can keep an inventory of your food supply and order groceries according to your diet, and robots that will take care of your household chores.

Are we at risk of hitting peak AI hype? Some in the AI industry seem to think so, and the gap between overstated functionality and reality may bring about consequences when it comes to the further adoption and development of AI technology.

 

Design

A good experience that delights and surprises travels through social media just as quickly as a poor experience. Consumer-facing technologies have always tried to apply designs that reflect a futuristic aesthetic. And so the Artificial Intelligence Experience (AIX) design becomes an evermore important concept for researchers, designers, developers, and companies to consider, as the user experience will be AI’s biggest marketing lever.

 

Education

Promoting AI literacy will help consumers of all ages better understand and harness AI’s potential without falling for the hype.

“Technology literacy is not only important for the people who are building the systems to help them think about the impact of what they're building,” says Charles Isbel, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech. “It is at least as important, perhaps more important that we teach people who are not going to build those systems, but are going to be impacted by those systems, to think about what those implications are. And that has to start as early as possible.”

A common understanding of AI and its capabilities that reflects different cultures, countries, and beliefs will help us better interpret and understand how AI is impacting our lives.

 

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If we are to believe Hollywood or product marketing, it can be easy to understand why many people do not trust AI-powered products. And while the industry and researchers may have good intentions when developing new technologies, there can be real consequences for consumers and significant backlash for companies when reality eventually fails to live up to the promise.

For this reason, public perception of AI is an important but often overlooked component of a burgeoning new technology and has implications on whether society trusts, fears, or ultimately embraces it.
Read the report’s full analysis on Public Perception at www.aixexchange.com and watch the interviews at www.youtube.com/AIXExchange.