“Move slow and fix things”: Britons concerned by current pace of AI deployment

Nearly one in two people in the UK (42%) believe artificial intelligence is currently being released at an unsafe pace, a new poll by global foundation Luminate highlights today.

As delegates gather for the UK's AI Safety Summit, these findings show a gulf between the public’s unease over the immediate impacts of AI versus the UK Summit’s focus on ‘frontier’ AI, defined as future AI models potentially more powerful than those used today. Only 17% said the current pace of AI development was safe.

A similar percentage (41%) say they don’t know much or at all about AI, showing the importance of a deliberate, democratic and public-centred approach to its deployment, while 71% support a slower and safer rollout of the technology.

"The British public need reassurance that today’s AI harms are going to be prioritised rather than the AI apocalypse risk on some distant horizon." said Alaphia Zoyab, Director for Campaigns and Media at Luminate.

"The narrow focus on the 'frontier' of AI serves only the Big Tech corporations rolling out new disruptive tools at breakneck speed. We’ve seen this movie before with social media corporations that once raved about “connection” while breaking democracy.” 

As social media platforms and search engines begin to use AI to increase the addictiveness of their algorithms, the majority of the UK (53%) also said this was a negative use of AI.

British public worried about AI harms unfolding today

The summit's stated focus is on 'risks at the frontier of AI around the misuse of AI by non-state actors to perform harms like cyber-attacks or to design bioweapons.'

The Luminate/Survation poll shows that while cybersecurity is indeed the top concern for the public when it comes to AI (32%), just as many are concerned about a combination of other immediate harms, such as election tampering through AI disinformation (13%), losing their job to AI automation (14%), and AI-induced discrimination (6%). A sizeable number (26%) did not know what the top risks of AI may be.

Enforcing data protection: the golden thread of AI Safety

Building on recent polling carried out by Luminate – which showed that 70% of people in the UK felt they had no control over tech corporations use their personal data, and 88%  felt it was important for social media companies to enable users to exercise their right to object to the use of their data for advertising – these fresh findings highlight that data protection should be the first guardrail against rampant AI deployment. 

That’s why Luminate supports the work of organisations seeking to ensure data protection law in the UK (GDPR) is not watered down. Luminate is also funding litigation against Meta to demand the enforcement of data rights. 

"As AI continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, democracy and technology do have to tango together.” said Alaphia Zoyab.

"Moving slow is not about hindering progress, but about ensuring that the changes we embrace today are ones we won’t regret tomorrow.” 

  • Luminate is a global foundation working to ensure that everyone - especially those who are currently underrepresented - has the information, rights, and power to influence the decisions that shape society. 
  • Luminate’s work focuses on enabling people to fully participate in civic and political life, to safely challenge power, and to access accurate, trustworthy information. Across our work, we seek to ensure that technology works for and not against democracy.
  • The survey was conducted online by Survation between 25th-26th October 2023, and is weighted to the profile of all UK adults aged 18+. Sample size was 1005.
  • Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and a Market Research Society company partner and abides by the rules and standards of both organisations.
  • For press enquiries or access to the full dataset please contact [email protected].