Reports  |    |  June 16, 2021

Experts Doubt Ethical AI Design Will Be Broadly Adopted as the Norm Within the Next Decade

Report written by Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson and Emily A. Vogles. Published by the Pew Research Center. 127 pages.


A majority worries that the evolution of artificial intelligence by 2030 will continue to be primarily focused on optimizing profits and social control. They also cite the difficulty of achieving consensus about ethics. Many who expect progress say it is not likely within the next decade. Still, a portion celebrate coming AI breakthroughs that will improve life.

As this unfolds, a number of experts and advocates around the world have become worried about the long-term impact and implications of AI applications. They have concerns about how advances in AI will affect what it means to be human, to be productive and to exercise free will. Dozens of convenings and study groups have issued papers proposing what the tenets of ethical AI design should be, and government working teams have tried to address these issues.

In light of this, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked experts where they thought efforts aimed at creating ethical artificial intelligence would stand in the year 2030. Some 602 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to this specific question:

By 2030, will most of the AI systems being used by organizations of all sorts employ ethical principles focused primarily on the public good?

In response, 68% chose the option declaring that ethical principles focused primarily on the public good will not be employed in most AI systems by 2030; 32% chose the option positing that ethical principles focused primarily on the public good will be employed in most AI systems by 2030.

This is a nonscientific canvassing, based on a nonrandom sample. The results represent only the opinions of the individuals who responded to the queries and are not projectable to any other population.

The bulk of this report covers these experts’ written answers explaining their responses. [ . . . ]