Why did we run this survey?

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies already interact with many aspects of people’s lives. To understand how the public currently experience AI, in November 2022, we ran a nationally representative survey of over 4,000 adults in Britain.

We asked people about their awareness of, experience with and attitudes towards different uses of AI. This included asking people what they believe are the key advantages and disadvantages, and how they would like to see these technologies regulated and governed.

While the term AI appears frequently in public discourse, it can be difficult to define and is often poorly understood, particularly as it encompasses a wide range of technologies that are used in different contexts and for distinct purposes. There is no single definition of AI, and the public may see the term applied in a wide variety of settings.

Making matters even more challenging is the fast pace of AI development. OpenAI’s ChatGPT was released two weeks after we began our fieldwork. The widespread media coverage of generative AI – AI that can generate content such as images, videos, audio and text – has probably already impacted public discourse, and this survey therefore reflects the attitudes of the British public before the surge of interest in this topic.

The multifaceted and continually evolving nature of AI can present a challenge for public attitudes research, as it can be difficult to ask people meaningfully how they feel about a complex topic which may evoke different interpretations. Taking this into account, we focused on asking people about specific technologies that make use of AI and we gave people clear descriptions of each.