We asked about two uses of AI simulations for advancing knowledge, one relating to the use of AI for climate change research and another around the use of virtual reality for educational purposes.
The public see the main benefits of simulations for science and education as making it faster and easier to enhance knowledge and understanding, as well as enabling a greater number of people to learn or benefit from research. However, the public are concerned about inequalities in access to the technology, meaning not everyone will benefit.
When asked about the use of new simulation technologies to advance climate change research, around two thirds of people said: that they would ‘make it faster and easier for scientists and governments to predict climate change effects’ (64%); that it would ‘predict issues across a wider range of regions and countries, meaning more people will experience the benefits of climate research’ (64%); and that it would ‘allow more people to understand the possible effects of climate change’ (63%).
In relation to the use of simulation technologies like virtual reality for education, the potential to ‘increase the quality of education by providing more immersive experiences’ (66%), and its potential to ‘allow more people to learn about history and culture’ (60%) are the most selected benefits (Table 11).
Table 11: Most commonly selected benefits for simulation technologies
‘Which of the following, if any, are ways you think the use of this technology will be beneficial?’
|Climate research simulations||1 Faster and easier to predict climate change effects||64%|
|2 More people will experience benefits||64%|
|3 More people will understand effects of climate change||63%|
|Virtual reality in education||1 Increase quality of education||66%|
|2 More people will learn about history and culture||60%|
|3 Faster and easier to learn about history and culture||58%|
Overall, the public choose few concerns in relation to AI for climate change research.
People don’t express many specific concerns about the use of simulation technologies for advancing climate change research. Over one third (36%) selected the risk that ‘the technology will predict issues in some regions better than others, meaning that some people do not experience the benefits of these technologies’. After this concern, however, the most selected answer is ‘None of these’ (26%), followed by 21% who selected inaccuracy as a concern.
The public are most concerned about inequalities in access and control over narratives in education in relation to the development of virtual reality for education.
Over half (51%) of British adults are concerned that ‘some people will not be able to learn about history and culture in this way as they will not have access to the technology’ in the development of virtual reality for education. This concern is followed by giving control over to technology developers on ‘what people learn about history or culture’ which is selected by 46% of people.
Table 12: Most commonly selected concerns for simulation technologies
‘Which of the following, if any, are concerns that you have about the use of this technology?’
|Climate research simulations||1 Benefits experienced unequally||36%|
|2 None of these||26%|
|3 Less accurate than professionals||21%|
|Virtual reality in education||1 Unequal access to technology||51%|
|2 Technology developers will control what people learn||46%|
|3 Personal information shared with third parties||18%|