Acceptance of artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision making: Greater than expected!

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Innovations usually have the potential to change entire industries. Sometimes their contribution also lies in changing the way something is done. For example, the way decisions are made and executed. There are often several reasons for innovations to take hold. One important prerequisite is acceptance by users. However, negative scenarios are often outlined: Artificial intelligence as a black box is just a gentle buzzword. So, what is the current state of acceptance of artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making systems by the general public?

Acceptance of artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making is steadily rising

In a recent study, the Bertelsmann Stiftung examined the acceptance of artificial intelligence among the general public. "What Germany knows and thinks about algorithms and artificial intelligence". These results were compared with previous representative surveys and were thus even able to identify trends in perception. The studies were conducted in collaboration with the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research /IfD). Even the authors of the study note that they consider some partial results remarkable. This is because acceptance of artificial intelligence among the general public is impressively high. This goes hand in hand with awareness of the application. It stands to reason that awareness of the application also has an impact on adoption. Thus, the study finds that the better-known application scenarios and thus the possible potential are, the higher the acceptance. Examples here are the provision of personalized advertising or the spelling and sentence structure check in word processing programs. It is also worth noting that acceptance is relatively high even for applications that are actually subject to criticism. For example, the acceptance of (partially) automated decisions is relatively high. These include, for example, the assessment of the creditworthiness of bank loans, the pre-selection of applicants, or facial recognition in connection with video surveillance in public places. Not only is it at a solid 50 percent of respondents in 2022. It also increased from 36 percent reported in 2018.

Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision making: opportunity or risk?

Another striking aspect emerges in the question of opportunities and risks. On the whole, the general public is said to focus more on risks than on opportunities. The study reveals a somewhat different picture. For example, 40 percent of respondents are undecided as to whether artificial intelligence represents more of an opportunity or a risk for society in general. However, those respondents who have a clear attitude toward the opportunities and risks of algorithmic decisions tend to show a negative view. For example, around 30 percent of respondents said that society could tend to become more unequal as a result of the use of artificial intelligence. This contrasts with around 20 percent who have a clearly positive attitude.

What is needed for further acceptance of artificial intelligence?

Consequently, the authors of the study derive several necessities from the results. New technologies and the changes they bring can only be truly assessed when potential users are informed about them. Thus, a basic prerequisite is an accumulation of knowledge and know-how. It is understandable that a technology that is difficult to assess initially triggers resistance. Therefore, it is important to communicate facts and effects so that everyone can form his or her own opinion. In addition, of course, differentiated media coverage that corresponds to the facts is also necessary. As it turns out, users are more open to technologies when they see and know the advantages in the respective area of application. It stands to reason that artificial intelligence and automated decision-making systems also serve the common good. For example, one contribution can be the reduction of complexity in decision-making. Decisions can thus become more reliable and consistent. Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making can thus contribute to greater stability in everyday life and in business. Contributing to stronger business resilience and ultimately more reliable workplaces is already a big plus.


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Overdiek, Markus und Petersen, Dr. Thomas (April 2022): Was Deutschland über Algorithmen und Künstliche Intelligenz weiß und denkt. Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Bevölkerungsumfrage: Update 2022, in: Bertelsmann Stiftung (eds.), Gütersloh. https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/publikationen/publikation/did/was-deutschland-ueber-algorithmen-und-kuenstliche-intelligenz-weiss-und-denkt-all [10.06.2022].

Author: Tanja Zimmermann