A recent survey indicates that despite significant hype, only a small percentage of people are regularly using artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT. The research, conducted by the Reuters Institute and Oxford University, surveyed 12,000 individuals across six countries, including the UK. Findings revealed that merely 2% of British respondents utilise these AI tools daily.

Dr Richard Fletcher, the lead author of the report, highlighted a disparity between the extensive media hype surrounding AI and the actual public interest. “There’s a mismatch between the hype and public interest in AI,” Dr Fletcher stated in an interview with the BBC.

The study specifically focused on generative AI tools—products capable of generating human-like text, images, audio, and video in response to simple prompts. These tools gained widespread attention following the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022, igniting a competitive surge among tech companies investing heavily in developing similar AI features.

Despite the significant investment and attention, the research suggests that generative AI has yet to become a staple in people’s daily internet use. “Large parts of the public are not particularly interested in generative AI,” Dr Fletcher noted, adding that 30% of UK respondents had not heard of any leading AI products, including ChatGPT.

The study also explored public perceptions of the potential impacts of generative AI. While most respondents believe AI will have a significant societal impact within the next five years, especially in fields like news, media, and science, opinions on its overall benefit to society were mixed. Many expect generative AI to improve their personal lives, but there is greater scepticism about its broader societal effects.

Dr Fletcher pointed out that optimism about AI varies by sector. People tend to be hopeful about AI’s role in science and healthcare but more cautious about its application in news and journalism and its potential impact on job security. “The research underscores the need for nuanced discussions about AI among governments, regulators, and the public,” he concluded.

The survey collected responses through an online questionnaire administered in six countries: Argentina, Denmark, France, Japan, the UK, and the USA. The results reflect a global perspective on the adoption and perception of generative AI technologies.