Are Americans embracing our AI overlords? Measuring technology sentiment and true usage

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Posted May 08, 2024
Grant Ronan

Generative AI continues to reshape our world, yet consumer attitudes towards it remain pivotal in its trajectory. We ran a comprehensive study spanning six months, aiming to gauge the general population’s usage patterns, concerns, and perceptions surrounding generative AI.

Adoption and application


Despite widespread coverage and free availability, over half (59%) of consumers have yet to engage with generative AI, highlighting its status as a nascent technology where a minority of users likely reap the greatest benefits. Remarkably,  9% of respondents have never even heard of generative AI.

Demographically, generative AI users skew towards being male, with higher incomes, and holding full-time employment or student status. Additionally, they over-index as  Hispanic or Asian American. Conversely, non-users skew towards being female, with lower incomes, and are more likely to be employed part-time or temporarily unemployed, with a higher representation of individuals identifying as Black/African American. These demographic trends offer valuable insights into the current landscape of generative AI adoption and highlight opportunities for targeted outreach and engagement efforts.

Awareness and usage of generative AI


Despite its novelty and time-saving potential, generating entirely new content remains one of the least utilized features of generative AI. In the past 30 days, consumers have primarily utilized AI chatbots for the following purposes:

  • 75% to inquire/learn more about topics
  • 57% for experimentation or testing purposes
  • 42% for summarizing information or text
  • 42% for generating new written content, such as essays, emails, or persuasive arguments
  • 34% for editing, proofreading, or enhancing their writing
  • 27% for generating new visual content, such as artwork or logos

While generative AI offers many professional applications, twice as many consumers have used it for personal reasons (82%) compared to business reasons (41%).

Most of those who have not used AI chatbots in the past 30 days cite a lack of interest or opposition. Respondents mention reasons such as not having had a reason to engage with generative AI (51%), simply not being interested (36%), or outright opposition and refusal to use it (13%). Additionally, some express uncertainty about where to find AI chatbots or how to use them (19%). 

Perceived impact

Generative AI is seen as offering a host of benefits, with increased efficiency and time savings ranking at the top (43%). Other significant benefits of generative AI include its application in Research & Development (36%) and its contribution to technological advancements (36%).

The vast majority of consumers recognize its potential to significantly (40%) or moderately (41%) impact the world. However, consumers may be underestimating the potential impact of generative AI on their own lives. Fewer respondents foresee a significant (15%) or moderate (36%) impact on their personal lives, with 17% believing it won't affect them. That means that 2.7 times as many consumers believe generative AI will significantly impact the world compared to themselves.

Consumers view the overall impact of the technology with a balanced perspective. When considering the impact on the world at large, 26% foresee a positive outcome, while 24% anticipate a negative one. Specific to their personal lives, 33% anticipate a positive effect, while 22% anticipate a negative impact. 

Optimism regarding generative AI's transformative potential is evident among current users, who believe it will change the world for the better. Conversely, those who are aware of the technology but have never used it lean towards a belief that it will have negative consequences. Optimism is more prevalent among millennials, democrats, and individuals with higher incomes ($50K+), while pessimism is more common among baby boomers, republicans, and those with lower incomes (under $50k).

How do consumers believe GenAI will change the world?

Career impact

Workers hold varying perspectives on the career implications of generative AI, with 28% anticipating a positive impact, 25% expecting a negative effect, and 47% maintaining a neutral stance. However, the prospect of a 4-day work week could significantly sway opinions, as 45% of those anticipating an impact would view it more positively under this arrangement.

Many workers view generative AI's career impact as distant, yet some report already experiencing its effects: 57% foresee their career being influenced in over a year, 28% anticipate an impact within the next year, and 16% assert that generative AI has already impacted their career. 

Perceptions differ based on individuals' expectations of a positive or negative impact. Those anticipating positive outcomes envision shorter-term effects, whereas those expecting negative outcomes view it as a longer-term problem.

Expected career impact of Generative AI


Consumers do express concerns about generative AI. Leading the list are worries about lost jobs and/or wages for humans (54%). Following closely are worries about the spread of misinformation (49%) and concerns regarding data privacy and/or security issues (48%). These concerns will need to be addressed as the use of Gen AI technologies continues to spread in order to drive trial and usage.

Highlighting these concerns about misinformation and security are some of the top barriers for individuals who, despite being aware of Gen AI, have yet to engage with any AI chatbots:

  • 28% are worried about how their information may be used by the companies that create AI.
  • 26% are concerned about the potential for AI to manipulate users.
  • 26% are apprehensive that generative AI might elicit, share, or access private data.
  • 25% are doubtful about the factual accuracy of AI responses.

While much of the focus often remains on job displacement caused by generative AI, an intriguing contradiction arises: Those most affected tend to be enthusiastic users who embrace the technology. 

Barriers to using Generative AI


There is generally low trust in companies developing generative AI, particularly regarding privacy. This lack of confidence may explain why a majority of respondents favor US government regulation.

Only a small minority (5%) express complete trust in companies ensuring user data privacy. Nearly one-third (31%) express no trust at all in companies ensuring user data privacy in generative AI development.

Opinions on the role of the US government in regulating generative AI are divided. A large portion (36%) of respondents advocate for strict government regulation, while a similar percentage (37%) support moderate regulation. A lesser percentage of respondents suggest that the government should provide recommendations only (15%) or should have no role in regulation (13%). These findings underscore the complexity of public opinion regarding the regulation of generative AI.

Key takeaways 

  • Despite the promising potential of generative AI, over half of consumers remain yet to explore its capabilities—a clear indication of its nascent status. 
  • 2.7 times as many consumers believe generative AI will significantly impact the world compared to themselves. However, consumers likely underestimate the effect it will have on them, which means they’re ripe for surprise.
  • Users, who skew male with higher income, view generative AI more positively compared to non-users. Conversely, those unaware of generative AI skew towards females, Black/African American individuals, and lower-income brackets. These disparities in awareness and usage could exacerbate over time, as users reap the benefits of generative AI while others remain unaware of its potential.
  • Job and wage losses rank as the top concern regarding generative AI. While the short-term effects on jobs appear mostly positive, long-term perceptions skew towards negativity.
    • Although job losses stand out as the primary concern surrounding generative AI, an interesting paradox emerges: those already impacted are power users who hold a positive view of the technology. These individuals leverage its capabilities to generate content, images, and summaries, citing increased efficiency as a key benefit.
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