Americans comfortable with letting computers do their thinking, study shows

Published on January 2, 2019

Every day, millions of Americans make decisions supported by artificial intelligence (AI). From what route someone should take to get from A-to-B, which playlists to listen to, shows to watch and articles to read, to even who they should go on dates with, AI algorithms are constantly making recommendations.

Innovative Technology Solutions (ITS) set out to identify just how satisfied Americans are with AI recommendations.

Innovative Technology Solutions surveyed 2,000 Americans, about which platforms they are most pleased with AI recommendations, which ones they are least satisfied with, and if artificial intelligence suggestions ever trump the recommendations of a flesh and blood friend.

The results revealed an interesting combination of satisfaction with computer algorithms’ suggestions but a prioritization of many real-life recommendations for certain situations.

In the survey, respondents were given examples of seven services which use artificial intelligence: GPS (Google Maps), dating apps (Math), TV/movie streaming (Netflix), music streaming (Spotify), restaurant and bar reviews (Yelp), job search applications (Linkedin), and news apps (Facebook).

When asked how happy people are with the recommendations on each of those seven platforms, respondents ranked their satisfaction with GPS the highest, followed by TV/movie streaming, music streaming, restaurant and bar apps, jobs search apps, dating apps, and finally news apps with the lowest satisfaction score.

When compared to the recommendation of a friend, respondents were asked what they trusted more, artificial intelligence, their friend, or both equally.

The majority of people (65%) said they trust a friend’s recommendation of who to date over the suggested choices provided on dating apps. Only 13% of respondents said they trusted the dating app more, and 22% said they trusted both sources equally for recommendations. In six of the seven categories of artificial intelligence platforms respondents said they trusted their friend’s recommendations over the algorithm-suggested option.

The only category in which respondents reported a higher rate of trust for artificial intelligence recommendations is directions: 46% of respondents say they would trust the GPS recommended route over a friend’s recommended directions.

Tech companies tout that the algorithm generated suggestions and recommendations are aimed at expanding users horizons and identifying tangentially interesting material. Innovative Technology Solutions wanted to find out if that was true and asked the 2,000 survey respondents felt as if the AI recommendations introduced them to new concepts and things of interest.

People seem to like the suggestions of artificial intelligence when it comes to streaming music and movies. Nearly half (48%) said they think music streaming AI recommendations broaden their horizons “a lot” and 44% said it does “a little.” Roughly the same amount (46%) said they think AI recommendations for streaming movies and TV has broadened their horizons “a lot” and 48% said it has “a little.”

Fewer than 40% of people think that artificial intelligence recommendations for dating apps, restaurants and bars, job searches and news applications have broadened their horizons “a lot,” but the majority do think they have “a little.”

Looking towards the future of artificial intelligence’s role in future recommendation scenarios people seem less trusting of the potential involvement of algorithm-aided decisions. Respondents appear to be most comfortable with AI assisting with financial advisement, but least comfortable with the idea of artificial intelligence being used in public elections. The exact nature and role of artificial intelligence is unclear, but what is clear is that more and more technology is being used in every aspects of our lives and artificial intelligence, oftentimes, is subtly contributing to how we use technology and engage with the real world.

Tricia Harte is a Columnist at GritDaily. Her column focuses on brands and emerging technology. She is a former reporter for FOX59 News.

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