Canadians don’t trust artificial intelligence much, and their trust in Facebook was dropping like a stone even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to a recent survey.
The third annual CanTrust survey by Proof Inc. (formerly Environics Communications) found that just 34 per cent of Canadians said they trust Facebook, compared with 51 per cent a year ago.
And Josh Cobden, executive vice-president, says he expects that number would be even lower now, because the survey was conducted in January and February, before revelations that the personal data of 87 million Facebook users was reportedly used for psychological profiling and election manipulation.
“They hadn’t yet heard of Cambridge Analytica, but they’d heard of all kinds of other issues involving that brand — from Russia meddling to questionable use of data,” Cobden said.
The findings from Proof also raise big questions about how Canadians see artificial intelligence, with most people reluctant to trust AI to improve their lives.
Thirty-eight per cent of Canadians said they trust AI to “positively contribute to the Canadian economy.” People similarly don’t trust it to improve their experience as a customer.
Cobden said AI is at risk of becoming like “global warming,” which many environmentalists now see as a failure in branding, because people didn’t understand it and the term didn’t encourage people to change their behaviours.
“If the sector doesn’t do a better job at defining itself, AI is going to be the next ‘global warming’ — misunderstood and mistrusted,” he said.
What’s notable, though, is that Google is among the most trusted brands in Canada, according to the survey, with 67 per cent of people saying they trust the search engine. Cobden noted the irony that Google works so well as a search engine partly because of AI in the algorithm.
To determine trust, people were asked to rate their level of trust on a seven-point scale; results of one to three are distrusting, four is neutral, and five to seven is considered trustworthy. The results are based on an online survey of 1,560 Canadians conducted between Jan. 18 and Feb. 5.