DigitalizationMost European consumers are ambivalent about the use of Artificial Intelligence

Today, the European Consumer Organization BEUC published a study on consumer attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence (AI). The results show that while consumers across Europe generally acknowledge the potential of AI, when faced with AI technologies in practical use, such as home virtual assistants or advertisement on e-commerce sites, most consumers have serious concerns about misuse of their personal data and the regulatory protection from potential risks.

This survey was conducted simultaneously by consumer organizations from nine EU member states, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden in November and December 2019.

These are further insights:

  • Overall, the knowledge of AI among consumers is relatively low, as 21 percent of respondents said they have never heard of it before or have no idea of its existence.
  • As for practical experience with AI, 41 percent of respondents said to have experienced "bad service" when it comes to the information provided for loan proposals based on automated decisions.
  • The majority of consumers expects the potential of KI and machine calculations in helping with predicting traffic accidents (91 percent), personal health (87 percent) or financial problems (81 percent).
  • However, many consumers are concerned that AI could lead to an increased abuse of personal data especially with voice recognition technologies: 68 percent of consumers in Germany and 71 percent in Belgium have little trust that their privacy is protected.
  • More than two thirds of respondents would like to stay on control and think that users should have the right to decline automated decision-making.
  • Moreover, most respondents consider the current legislation to be inadequate to effectively regulate AI activities. Only one fifth of respondents said that current rules would protect them from AI-induced harm.

Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, commented: "It is concerning that a majority of consumers do not trust that their privacy is protected when using AI tools such as smart watches or voice assistants. Consumers tell us that they are worried about the risk that companies and governments can deploy AI to manipulate their decisions and that AI will lead to unfair discrimination. Current consumer protection, privacy and liability rules are simply not fit for purpose to protect consumers from the negative consequences of AI. The EU is planning to propose rules on AI: they are urgently needed."

Source: BEUC

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