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Infographic – Public, Tech Execs Differ on A.I. Use

Chart: public knowledge of A.I.

Click on image for full-size view (Statista)

16 Mar. 2019. Artificial intelligence, or A.I., is making rapid inroads into the world’s economy and people’s daily lives, and particularly in the fields of technology and science. We’ve followed developments in machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision for several years on Science & Enterprise, with a few recent stories found in the links below.

The Edelman public relations agency released results of a survey earlier this month, gauging the public’s awareness of A.I., with some of those findings displayed yesterday by our friends at Statista, our infographic for this weekend. The Edelman team polled 1,000 adults in the U.S. last summer on their knowledge and concerns about A.I., and compared the results to responses from 300 technology industry executives.

On the question of where A.I. is used, technology executives were generally more aware of these applications than the public, which should come as no surprise, but some of the differences are telling. For example, strong majorities — about two-thirds to three-quarters — of both the public and technology executives know A.I. underpins voice assistants on phones and home speakers, but only 37 percent of the public is aware of A.I.’s role in natural language processing, a key technology behind voice assistants, compared to a majority (56%) of technology executives. Similar gaps are found in knowledge of text recognition and computer vision, two other foundational A.I. technologies.

One of the reasons for the gaps in awareness could be a similar lack of knowledge about A.I. by today’s news reporters. Last summer, I was on a panel at University of Iowa about media ethics, politics, and public policy, where I noted how the lack of math skills by many journalists hampers their understanding of critical topics like A.I. If reporters don’t know basic math, how will they ever understand algorithms?

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