Poll: How Americans see AI: Caution, skepticism, and hope

In the year since the release of ChatGPT, the volume of news and information about artificial intelligence has skyrocketed. AI dominates headlines in traditional media and fills social media chatter. It’s the subject of podcasts and TikToks and YouTube videos, highlighting deep dangers and broad promises. What are people taking away from these stories, and how does that connect with reality? 

The AI Literacy Lab at Northeastern University was launched to advance the public’s understanding of artificial intelligence. Our goal is to help people transcend the hype, exuberance, and fear and embark on meaningful discussions about how to manage this new technology and integrate it into society. To encourage responsible conversations about AI in the future, we need to understand the state of the conversation right now.

We conducted a poll of 1,000 Americans 18 and older to gauge their feelings and attitudes about AI. We found that AI has caught the public’s attention — more than three quarters of Americans consume news about it at least weekly — and created a deep sense of caution and skepticism. Our survey also pinpointed some demographic factors that affect people’s attitudes toward AI. People with STEM experience are more likely to feel optimistic about the technology, suggesting that more technical knowledge could diminish anxiety and prompt more nuanced discussions. Women are more likely than men to be skeptical of AI and its stewards, raising questions about whether some uses of AI seem disproportionately harmful to children and families.

This poll of 1,000 adults 18 and older was conducted online by the research firm Dynata between August 15 and 29, 2023. The panel was weighted to reflect U.S. demographics in age, gender, household income, and race. The poll has a margin of error of +-3%. Survey analysis by Garrett Morrow and John Wihbey, Northeastern University.