Consumers conflicted over artificial intelligence data use

Artificial intelligence has been welcomed by consumers, but a majority report that trust issues remain to be addressed, according to a new survey by Cisco

Consumers support artificial intelligence but worry about how businesses use the technology, according to a new survey, with well over half of respondents reporting they have lost trust in organisations due to their use of AI.

The data was revealed in Cisco’s 2022 Consumer Privacy Survey, an annual global review of consumers' perceptions and behaviours on data privacy. This year's survey highlights the need for further transparency as consumers say their top priority is for organisations to be more transparent on how they use their personal data. 

Cisco’s survey also showed that while consumers are supportive of AI (with 54% willing to share their anonymised data to improve AI products), 65% have lost trust in organisations due to their use of AI.

"Organisations need to explain their data practices in simple terms and make them readily available so that customers and users can understand what is going on with their data. It is not just legally required; trust depends on it," says Harvey Jang, Cisco Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer.

This year, 81% of respondents agreed that how an organisation treats personal data indicates how it views and respects its customers, representing the highest percentage since Cisco began tracking it in 2019.

Consumers take action to protect data, says Cisco

Cisco also discovered some consumers are taking action to better protect their data in response to the erosion of trust in organisations. A total of 76% say they would not buy from a company they do not trust with their data, 37% indicated they had already switched providers over data privacy practices, 53% say they manage their cookie settings before accepting the terms, and 46% of those with a home listening device say they turn it off regularly to protect their privacy.

Rapidly changing technologies make it difficult for consumers to trust companies with their data, says Cisco, but most respondents reported the potential benefits of AI outweigh the risk, provided proper de-identification is in place - 54% said they were willing to share anonymised personal data to help improve AI-based products and decision-making.

But a disconnect exists between businesses and consumers - while 87% of organisations believe they have processes in place to ensure automated decision-making is carried out in accordance with customer expectations, 60% of respondents expressed concern about how organisations are using personal data for AI. Organisations could give consumers the opportunity to opt-out of an AI application and explain how their AI application works, says Cisco.

More than half of those surveyed said national or local government should play the primary role in protecting consumers' data, Cisco found, as many consumers do not trust private companies to be responsible with personal data without oversight.

"We hope that the insights from this survey will motivate organisations to continue to prioritize their customers' desire for security, privacy, and transparency," says Brad Arkin, Cisco Senior Vice President, Chief Security and Trust Officer.

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