Americans Are Terrified About Data And AI

Will AI take over the world? Does ChatGPT use my personal data? How many companies have data on me? Will China or Russia get and use my data?

Americans are extremely worried about data, privacy, and the rapid development of AI according to a new report by a company that provides an app that it says can remove your data from thousands of businesses’ databases.

Among the results:

  • 92% want a national privacy law
  • 66% of Americans believe privacy threats have gotten worse in the last year
  • 64.4% say their data was used in a scam
  • 80% are concerned that their personal data is being used to train AI models
  • 48% say AI will negatively impact them personally
  • 72% are worried about their personal data being used by a future power AI system
  • 77% are afraid AI tools will deepfake their voices or faces to commit fraud
  • 80% say AI has increased the likelihood that their personal data will be used in malicious ways by criminals or hacker collectives
  • 70% are worried that AI will be used by other nations in information warfare campaigns
  • 57% fear that AI will replace humans
  • 51% don’t trust companies to keep their data safe

“The people have spoken,” says Aaron Mendes, CEO of PrivacyHawk, the company that commissioned the survey. “They want privacy; they demand trusted institutions like banks protect their data; they universally want congress to pass a national privacy law; and they are concerned about how their personal data could be misused by artificial intelligence.”

Only 5.7% of Americans are not concerned, according to the report, about their personal data risk.

While it’s true that most non-technologically savvy people don’t understand AI or how their private data is used by different companies and might therefore over-estimate the risks of AI and privacy, it’s also true that even the most technologically-savvy people in the world have concerns. The massive open letter from March of this year calling for a pause in AI experiments was signed by luminaries such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, politician Andrew Yang, and tech CEOs of companies such as Pinterest, Getty Images, and others, plus numerous academics and professors in technology-related fields.

AI development has advanced extremely quickly over the past year. Perhaps the core problem is that the technology improves faster than our ability to understand both it and the ramifications of its new abilities.

Part of that might include new federal privacy legislation, which in the U.S. has until now left in the hands of individual states.

Current laws for privacy at the state level include:

  • California Privacy Rights Act
  • Colorado Privacy Act
  • Connecticut Data Privacy Act
  • Utah Consumer Privacy Act
  • Virginia Consumer Data Privacy Act

“The United States has historically allowed businesses and institutions to collect personal information without express consent, while regulating those uses to prevent or mitigate harms in specific sectors,” writes Fredric D. Bellamy, a lawyer and partner with Dickinson Wright PLLC. “Data privacy laws in this country (and around the world) are changing more in 2023, and there will be no looking back.”

The survey asked 1,002 American residents their opinions about AI and privacy, and was conducted by an independent market research organization, Propeller Insights. According to Propeller Insights, the results are generalizable to the overall population with an error margin of plus or minus 4% at a 95% confidence level.


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