AI Fear: What’s the Cause and Should You Be Afraid

  • An increasing number of tasks are now being handled by AI, causing both economic anxiety for workers susceptible to displacement and ethical concerns regarding the decision-making principles of these systems.
  • Our attitudes towards automation and AI are influenced by individual personality traits, cultural factors and demographic characteristics.
  • Cultural attitudes towards AI vary widely, with fear of AI highest in countries like India and Saudi Arabia and lowest in Japan.
  • Fear of AI is often associated with the belief that AI lacks the necessary characteristics to perform tasks ethically and effectively.
  • Increased exposure to automation, including AI applications such as self-driving cars and robot-led religious services, can cause people to question their religious beliefs.

The widespread adoption of AI is not without its apprehensions. Many fear that AI could lead to job displacement and have concerns regarding the ethical implications of decisions made by artificial intelligence systems. For instance, in the healthcare and judiciary sectors, where decisions hold significant potential consequences, scepticism remains high due to doubts as to whether AI can execute these roles with the necessary ethical considerations and effectiveness.

According to a study of over 1,000 participants from Germany and China, researchers found that people’s attitudes towards AI can be linked to their individual personality traits and cultural factors. Generally, those with higher levels of neuroticism, a trait associated with worry and anxiety, expressed more fear of artificial intelligence.

However, the fear of AI is not uniform across all societies. A survey involving 10,000 participants across 20 countries found that fears about AI were highest in India and Saudi Arabia and lowest in Japan. The study also revealed interesting anomalies; for instance, Saudi Arabia exhibited a particularly high level of concern about religious AI, while Japan was more concerned about AI caregivers.

Notably, increasing exposure to automation seems to create discomfort among certain religious communities. Studies have found that religious commitment can be undermined when sermons are delivered by robot priests, suggesting that the rise of AI and automation may be challenging traditional religious beliefs.

As AI continues to permeate daily life in diverse ways, from transportation and art creation to academic assistance, reactions to these changes appear to be greatly influenced by personal traits, cultural backgrounds, and demographic factors.