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(Australian Associated Press)
Most Australians believe that artificial intelligence will do more social good than harm although a small percentage think it could lead to the end of the human race.
A national survey by Monash University found while nearly 90 per cent of Australians were aware of artificial intelligence, only a quarter knew much about it.
The study published by the Monash Data Futures Institute on Tuesday suggests the people who know a lot about artificial intelligence are aged 18-24, speak a language other than English at home and have experience in computers and science.
More than 2000 Australians over 18 responded to the survey in April, with 5.1 per cent believing the development of high-level artificial intelligence could lead to human extinction.
The majority of respondents – some 69 per cent – believe artificial intelligence will do more social good than harm while 63.5 per cent support its development.
Twelve per cent said they were opposed to artificial intelligence.
Australians were also found to view artificial intelligence more favourably compared with Americans, with just 41 per cent of people from the United States supporting its development.
More than 87 per cent of Australians support establishing a new regulatory body to govern and promote responsible innovation in artificial intelligence.
Australians had the lowest level of confidence in Amazon and Facebook to develop artificial intelligence in the best interests of the public while they expressed the most faith in the CSIRO to develop AI for the greater good.
The biggest fears surrounding the technology related to surveillance and loss of privacy as well as the misuse of artificial technology by governments and companies.
The report’s lead investigator, Professor Neil Selwyn, says a greater understanding of the technology is still needed.
“Most Australians have moved on from seeing AI as something in movies such as Terminator. But people still tend to imagine powerful forms of AI – overlooking the more mundane instances of AI that are already all around us,” Prof Selwyn said in a statement.
Monash Data Futures Institute research director Geoff Webb says artificial intelligence has great potential but warned it can be used without benefit for the greater good.
“It is critical that the public understand both the positive and negative potentials of AI technology, and that there are well-informed and regulated frameworks in place for their use,” Professor Webb said.