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Business Needs to Make the Positive Case for AI

Originally published in TechUK.

Following the European Union adopting the AI Act and the publication of the UK Government’s AI White Paper response, FGS Global’s Radar report considers public perceptions of AI and demonstrates why business must do more to make the positive case for AI.

As global AI policy crystallises from abstract debate into real-world impact, FGS Global’s Radar report shows the public concern that exists on AI and the need to consider the wider context policy is made in.

First, 37% of the public support swift intervention to manage AI risks, whilst only 13% favour regulatory restraint. Allied to this, 62% believe increased backlash against AI is likely in 2024, including through union strikes and tighter regulations. People understand the quickening pace of technological change demands responsiveness, and that inaction itself is a choice.

Second, more people are concerned about the impact of AI on their employment prospects, security, financial situation and quality of life than foresee a positive effect. However, beyond the personal impacts, 37% of people remain optimistic about AI's general potential, highlighting fields like healthcare as areas that AI can deliver improvements in.

Third, demographic and regional differences are significant. Those aged 18-34 are the most pessimistic, with only 19% predicting an overall positive impact, compared to 32% of 35-54 year olds and 48% of over-55s. Londoners are also markedly more at ease, with 25% of Londoners highly confident discussing AI, compared to 10% nationally. As the UK’s tech hub, proximity appears to breed familiarity, but this also underscores a chasm between London and the country.

For AI businesses now facing new regulatory environments globally, these results should provoke concern, as much of the public either do not understand the benefits AI offers or view these as secondary when compared to the most severe negative impacts. Those voices that support a considered approach therefore need to take the lead to address this, and there are two clear opportunities to do so.

Firstly, the public’s major concerns stem from fundamental risks around living standards, jobs and security. Therefore, those businesses already implementing AI must lead transparently and responsibly by ensuring ethical best practice approaches throughout their operations. Many of the largest players are already doing so by submitting models to the AI Safety Institute for pre-release testing, however more needs to be done to address fundamental concerns.

Secondly, a more positive campaign in support of AI is necessary, particularly given the concern that exists among young people. To date, various organisations have led ‘AI for Good’ campaigns, without delivering significant cut-through. A new approach to ‘AI for Good’ must strike the balance between addressing the issues the public views as negative, whilst advocating in favour of the benefits AI can deliver.

As the first regulatory cornerstones are laid globally, the broad focus on ensuring the regulatory environment supports innovation is to be welcomed. An approach that fosters innovation and growth through is contingent on the public understanding the significant benefits AI offers. For global technology companies it is therefore now more important than ever to explicitly make the case for ‘AI for Good’.

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