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How professionals feel about AI takeover

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More young people than old, and more men than women, are open to artificial intelligence-powered machines replacing people in a variety of jobs, according to the latest Media & Technology Survey from Boston University’s College of Communication and Ipsos.

By more than 30 percentage points, Americans ages 18 to 34 surveyed were more receptive than those 55 or older when considering AI replacing people working as journalists, hiring managers, trial judges, spiritual advisers or leaders of religious congregations. Respondents ages 35 to 54 were in-between.

Men were more receptive than women to AI replacing workers in those jobs by almost 10 percentage points.

Still, three out of four respondents across all ages, genders, ethnicities and income groups say having AI replace people in these jobs “doesn’t seem like a good idea” or is “definitely a bad idea.” One quarter says it’s definitely or probably a good idea.

Black, Hispanic and Asian respondents were notably more open than white respondents to AI replacing hiring managers and trial judges – suggesting their own experiences seeking employment and dealing with the justice system, respectively, may be coloring these perceptions. 

James Katz, Boston University College of Communication’s Feld Professor of Emerging Media and co-editor of Journalism and Truth in an Age of Social Media, noted that of the five different roles offered up for replacement by computer-algorithms, journalists were the most likely to be “voted off the island.”

“Most people want their news without a coating of bias by reporters,” Katz said. “Sadly, there is widespread and warranted skepticism about the press’s conduct in this regard. To me, the survey results suggest that many people, justifiably or not, expect that computer-algorithms could be more objective news providers than human reporters.”

Those in the news industry should not despair, added Michelle Amazeen, associate professor at Boston University’s College of Communication and director of the college’s Communication Research Center.

Some journalists, such as fact-checkers, are steadfastly pursuing AI to help them do their jobs more efficiently,” Amazeen said. “Moreover, research has shown that when journalists do their work in tandem with algorithms, audience perceptions of bias are attenuated. These findings underscore the promise of AI in the journalism industry.”

Survey Details:

Survey respondents were asked, thinking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in daily life, what is your opinion of having AI replace humans in the following jobs: journalist, spiritual adviser, hiring manager, trial judge and leader of a religious congregation? Their responses for each job:

Journalist:

Definitely a good idea and should be done: 9%

Probably a good idea and should be considered: 24%

Doesn’t seem like a good idea: 38%

Definitely a bad idea and should not be done: 29%

(Good Idea / Not Good Idea)

Male: 37% / 63%

Female: 28% / 72%

18-34: 47% / 53%

35-54: 36% / 64%

55+: 19% / 81%

White: 31% / 69%

Black: 33% / 67%

Hispanic: 40% / 60%

Asian: 37% / 63%

Spiritual Adviser:

Definitely a good idea and should be done: 8%

Probably a good idea and should be considered: 16%

Doesn’t seem like a good idea: 34%

Definitely a bad idea and should not be done: 42%

(Good Idea / Not Good Idea)

Male: 27% / 73%

Female: 20% / 80%

18-34: 39% / 61%

35-54: 27% / 73%

55+: 9% / 91%

White: 22% / 78%

Black: 33% / 67%

Hispanic: 25% / 75%

Asian: 24% / 76%

Hiring Manager:

Definitely a good idea and should be done: 7%

Probably a good idea and should be considered: 21%

Doesn’t seem like a good idea: 40%

Definitely a bad idea and should not be done: 32%

(Good Idea / Not Good Idea)

Male: 33% / 67%

Female: 23% / 77%

18-34: 46% / 54%

35-54: 30% / 70%

55+: 11% / 89%

White: 23% / 77%

Black: 39% / 61%

Hispanic: 39% / 61%

Asian: 31% / 69%

Trial Judge:

Definitely a good idea and should be done: 7%

Probably a good idea and should be considered: 15%

Doesn’t seem like a good idea: 32%

Definitely a bad idea and should not be done: 46%

(Good Idea / Not Good Idea)

Male: 29% / 71%

Female: 16% / 84%

18-34: 36% / 64%

35-54: 24% / 76%

55+: 10% / 90%

White: 19% / 81%

Black: 26% / 74%

Hispanic: 30% / 70%

Asian: 28% / 72%

Leader of a Religious Congregation:

Definitely a good idea and should be done: 8%

Probably a good idea and should be considered: 14%

Doesn’t seem like a good idea: 31%

Definitely a bad idea and should not be done: 48%

(Good Idea / Not Good Idea)

Male: 26% / 74%

Female: 17% / 83%

18-34: 35% / 65%

35-54: 25% / 75%

55+: 8% / 92%

White: 20% / 80%

Black: 23% / 77%

Hispanic: 25% / 75%

Asian: 22% / 78%

The Media & Technology Survey is an ongoing project of the Communication Research Center (CRC) at Boston University’s College of Communication, in partnership with Ipsos, the market research company. This month’s poll was conducted in English on September 21, 2022, using Ipsos eNation Omnibus, a nationally representative online survey that measures attitudes and opinions of 1,000 adults across the United States. This online survey has a credibility interval (CI) of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The data were weighted to the U.S. population data by region, gender, age, and education. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error.

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