Almost Half of Americans Believe that Artificial Intelligence Poses a Threat to the Survival of Humanity

New York, New York, UNITED STATES

  • 43% of the American public believe A.I. poses a threat to the long-term survival of humanity
  • Americans work in fear that 36% of their job today could be replaced by A.I. within 5 years
  • 78% of women would consider it cheating if their partner had sex with a robot

NEW YORK, Oct. 06, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As Blade Runner 2049 hits movie theatres today, new research shows that concerns about artificial intelligence (A.I.) are top of mind for the American public. Research titled “Sex, Lies and A.I.” from WPP digital agency SYZYGY reveals that almost half (43%) of the American public believe that A.I. poses a threat to the long-term survival of humanity.

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Many Americans (41%) report feeling concerned and 17% experience anxiety when they think about A.I., with 7% citing A.I. taking control as their top fear. 71% of Americans are against predictive policing technology that uses A.I. to predict and then apprehend suspects before they commit a crime.  Yet 71% believe that autonomous weaponized drones and robots should be allowed in armed conflict. (Only 41% of U.K. adults and 61% of Germans condone the use of these weapons.)  79% of Americans think that it should be illegal for artificial intelligence to hide its real identity and impersonate a human.

While the original Blade Runner portrayed what felt to many like a distant future, Blade Runner 2049 tells a different story. Today the majority (59%) of Americans believe A.I. is already affecting their lives, while close to half (45%) of adults currently use virtual A.I. assistants such as Siri or Alexa and five in six (20%) have interacted with a chatbot.

S-Ex Machina

When asked about the ethics behind sex robots, 50% of American men and 20% of American women said that if it their privacy was assured, they would want to try the latest generation of hyper-realistic sex robots with programmable personalities.  However, 78% of women and 47% of men would consider it cheating if their partner had sex with a sex robot without telling them.

Killer Cars

When asked about moral dilemmas and self-driving cars, Americans are equally split on whether self-driving cars should put the safety of its own passengers above that of pedestrians.  50% of Americans believe that self-driving cars should be programmed to minimize overall harm in an accident, even if that means injuring the passengers. However only 30% of Americans would travel in a car programmed this way.

Impact on jobs

Finally, the biggest fear that Americans have when they think of A.I. is related to work. The top fear for 30% of Americans is A.I. taking jobs. People fear that A.I. could replace a third (36%) of their current job duties within the next five years. 

Megan Harris, Managing Director of SYZYGY New York, said: “This research indicates that despite their fears, people are open to the promise of A.I. Many expect this technology to make their lives easier by saving them time, money, and effort. Yet they recognize that A.I. can have a dark side and want guidelines to ensure against ethical abuses by individuals and institutions. With A.I. quickly becoming a real force in people’s lives, now it’s time to act.”

Dr. Paul Marsden, SYZYGY’s consumer psychologist who managed the study added: “This research reveals how consumers are conflicted when it comes to A.I. Many see advantages, but there are underlying fears based on whether this technology, or the organizations behind it, has their best interests at heart. Brands need to be sensitive to how people feel about this new technology. What we need is a human-first, not technology-first approach, to the deployment of A.I.”

The WPP SYZYGY study, “Sex, Lies and A.I.: How the American Public Feels About Artificial Intelligence” was conducted in Q3, 2017 with 2,000 American adults aged 18-65 from the WPP Lightspeed Consumer Panel. The study can be downloaded from


SYZYGY is an international digital communications agency partially owned by the WPP Group. We put human happiness at the heart of everything we do, and use digital technology to help brands become agents of positive change. Headquartered in Germany with offices in New York, London and Warsaw, our team of 600 professionals work with leading brands around the world, including Avis Budget Group, Kettle Chips, and Mazda. 

Sex, Lies, and A.I.

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