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Risk Perception of Artificial Intelligence: How do we perceive artificial intelligence?

New research project on societal framing of AI technologies at the Research Group on Public Relations and Communication of Technology launched.

Laura Martin (Source: Laura Martin)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is considered one of the technologies that is believed to have a lasting impact on social coexistence and the global economy. Even if the current state of development is still far away from 'independently thinking' machines (also called 'strong AI'), some applications have already found their way into everyday life (e.g. autonomous driving, face or speech recognition, chatbots and personal assistants).

While there are many positive voices about opportunities and potentials of AI technologies, there have also been critical words and warnings in public debates and the media coverage - among them from prominent persons such as Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) or Stephen Hawking. These warnings refer to military applications such as autonomous weapons, potential misuse of private user data or upheavals in the labor market at the expense of the population.

The accusation goes to journalists from a wide variety of media and requires a more precise empirical survey, which is to be carried out as part of the new pilot study in the department of PR and communication of technology. Although it can be assumed that the public debate on AI will have substantial impact on the research on AI, its regulation and further development, empirical communication research has so far hardly dealt with media construction of AI technologies or the strategic (risk) communication of actors in business, science and politics.

The current study therefore examines German and US media for dominant frames about artificial intelligence and its applications. In particular, the focus is on linking concepts from risk communication, risk perception and science communication research. Under the leadership of Dr. Andreas Schwarz the project is supported by Laura Martin.

The pilot project "Framing ‘narrow’ and ‘general’ Artificial Intelligence" is part of a new research focus that the Public Relations and Technical Communication department is currently developing intensively and in interdisciplinary cooperation with AI experts. Starting in August 2018, first results are to be expected in January 2019. The start-up financing of the project amounting to € 15,000 is provided by the internal research funding of the Research Committee of the TU Ilmenau.