Poll: Texans Cool on AI Industry’s Rapid Advance

AI concept
AI concept | Image by Khanchit Khirisutchalual/Getty Images

A recent poll conducted by the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute has revealed that a significant majority of Texans support the regulation of artificial intelligence technologies and applications.

The survey polled 730 voters in Texas and found that 69% of respondents believe regulating AI is currently consistent with the state’s values. This sentiment showcases a growing awareness among Texans regarding the potential risks associated with unchecked AI development. The sample group that was surveyed comes from throughout the state of Texas.

“The AI frontier is being pushed forward rapidly by corporations pouring billions into training powerful AI models. The speed of this advancement has outpaced our understanding of these systems, leaving us in the dark about their capabilities, behavior, and the risks they pose,” Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute (AIPI) said.

AIPI is a non-profit organization committed to both research and advocacy, with a specific focus on addressing potential catastrophic risks associated with the emergence of AI technology, per the organization’s website.

“The data is crystal clear: Texans support sensible public policy interventions, and the majority of the state’s voters are deeply skeptical of fast AI growth and tech executives regulating themselves,” said Daniel Colson, executive director for AIPI.

The poll highlighted that 68% of Lone Star State voters prioritize the need to keep dangerous AI models out of the hands of bad actors, compared to just 19% who advocate for the democratization of AI. This data suggests a strong inclination towards implementing regulatory measures to safeguard against the potential misuse of AI technologies in Texas.

AIPI also underscored the importance of governmental intervention in regulating AI development, particularly in light of concerns surrounding potential catastrophic risks.

“The government can require AI companies to conduct extensive testing of new models for dangerous capabilities before release. The public wants these testing requirements created before these capabilities are developed. 65% favor developing such regulations now in advance of capabilities compared to just 16% who favor developing regulations in response to capabilities,” said Colson.

The survey also revealed that most Texans (54%) fear AI, indicating a prevalent apprehension towards its rapid advancement. Additionally, 55% of respondents expressed concerns about the growth of AI, while only 20% expressed excitement.

Despite the enthusiasm for regulation, there remains a divide regarding the pace of AI progress. While 50% of respondents agree it would be beneficial to slow down or halt AI progress, 30% disagree.

With the majority of Texans expressing support for regulatory measures, there is a growing momentum towards implementing policies that balance the benefits of AI with the imperative of minimizing associated risk.

With respect to the national perspective, the Pew Research Center published a study in 2023 reporting that a majority of Americans (52%) express greater concern than excitement regarding the integration of AI into daily life, while only a small fraction (10%) reported feeling more excited than concerned.

“Ultimately, if we want to reap the benefits of AI, we have to manage the risks. Texans are clear that they are much more worried about potential harms than they are excited about potential benefits. If we are reckless with AI and don’t create adequate safeguards, the public backlash will be immense. Safety requirements are thus necessary for innovation to thrive,” said Colson.

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