LONDON/NEW YORK: Blade Runner 2049 was released in cinemas at the end of last week, coinciding with a new transatlantic survey of British and American attitudes about artificial intelligence.

Based on responses from 2,000 UK adults and another 2,000 in the US, WPP digital agency Syzygy revealed a strong majority in both countries think AI in marketing should be governed by a key principle from the movie, Campaign reported.

This states that it should be illegal for AI to hide its real identity and impersonate a human – a view shared by 85% of British respondents and 79% of Americans.

A press release covering the US sample also revealed that some 43% of Americans believe that AI poses a threat to the long-term survival of humanity, while 17% experience anxiety when they think about the technology.

However, these concerns do not appear to extend to the role of AI in the military because 71% say autonomous weaponised drones and robots should be allowed in warfare – whereas only 41% of British respondents agree.

The research also found that many Americans (59%) believe AI is already affecting their lives, while close to half (45%) currently use virtual AI assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon Echo’s Alexa. Another 20% have interacted with a chatbot.

Looking in more detail at the use of AI in marketing, Campaign reported that 92% of UK consumers believe there should be regulation with a legally-binding code of conduct, while three-quarters (75%) think brands should need explicit consent before using AI in their marketing.

That said, just 17% of Brits say they would react negatively if they discovered the latest ad for their favourite brand was created by AI rather than humans.

But they don’t have the same tolerance when it comes to customer service and support because 28% overall (and 33% of women) would feel more negatively towards their favourite brand if they discovered it was using AI instead of humans.

Dr Paul Marsden, Syzygy’s consumer psychologist who managed the study, said: “This research reveals how consumers are conflicted when it comes to AI. Many see advantages, but there are underlying fears based on whether this technology, or the organisations behind it, has their best interests at heart.

“Brands need to be sensitive to how people feel about this new technology. What we need is a human-first, not technology-first approach, to the deployment of AI.”

Sourced from Campaign, Syzygy; additional content by WARC staff