Artificial Intelligence is not new technology. It has long been dramatised in popular culture, theorised about, and covered in think-pieces. However, with recent AI tech becoming more sophisticated, mainstream, and widely available online, the issues and concerns associated with it have also become stark and amplified – both globally and locally.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) describes a broad, general technology with many applications. For instance, optimising work systems (e.g., in Finance, Healthcare, and Manufacturing), search engines, social media algorithms, game system bots and voice assistants. In this survey, we asked our respondents specifically about Generative AI (GAI).
The potential of GAI to become a major part of existing systems and organisations has arrived and looks poised to roll onwards. In this context, how do Singaporeans understand and feel about AI technology? Do these technologies have a place in our society, workforce, and education system, and how much have locals already interacted with or integrated it into everyday activities?
We surveyed 210 respondents in this quick poll to gather perspectives.
Experiences with GAI
A large majority of 96% selected Chatbots as one of the tools they have interacted with – of which almost 60% indicated that it is the only tool they have experienced. Around 40% have interacted with Image or Art generators, while a much smaller percentage of 7% have interacted with Deep-fake video tools.
When asked about the nature of their experiences, a majority of 69% felt positive about their interactions with GAI tools. Conversely, while 28.2% indicated neutrality, a far smaller percentage felt negative about their experiences.
Perspectives on GAI
The relatively lower percentage of negative feelings can also be observed in how respondents felt about the use of GAI-generated content. Only 13.8% and 11% respectively felt negative about GAI-generated content being used as entertainment and in work or education spaces respectively. In both cases, a small majority felt positive about using GAI-generated content. However, the not insignificant percentage of “neutral” responses perhaps suggests hesitance to fully embrace such content.
While openness towards the use of GAI can be seen in the above results, questions about legislation surrounding the technology also reflect a desire for boundaries and official regulation. Over 70% believe that GAI (rather than just AI) should be specifically regulated by legislation, with only 4% disagreeing. When asked about Singapore specifically, a similar 75.7% also agreed that GAI should be regulated by Singapore’s Government.
Predictions and the Future
Respondents were also shown a series of statements and asked how far they agreed or disagreed with them, providing insight into how the future of GAI – both broadly and personally – is perceived. A majority of 52.4% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that GAI will play a more significant role in our lives in the future. While few strongly disagreed, about 24% disagree.
While the first statement drew a relatively low amount of “neither” responses, the following statements saw fewer respondents taking a definite stance. For instance, when asked if they believe that GAI can be a force for good, 26.7% answered “neither.” A majority of 46.2% indicated agreement and 27.1% either disagreed or strongly disagreed.
To the statement “I believe that GAI will not be an overall positive for society,” the number of “neither” responses were even higher, at 40.5%. Also similar to the previous question, a majority of respondents also showed reluctance to take strong stances either way – with only 7.6% and 5.7% selecting “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree” respectively. Overall, however, more respondents disagree with the statement than agree, further mirroring previous answers that suggest positive feelings towards the potential of GAI.
When asked about their personal use of GAI, 43.4% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they are comfortable using Generative AI tools, with 22.8% either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. 33.8% neither agreed nor disagreed.
In summary, despite AI and GAI technology being a mainstay of local and international news (often the subject of ethical debate, warning calls, and discussion), a significant portion of our respondents demonstrated positive, or accepting perspectives on GAI. In particular, it is possible that experiences with GAI tools predispose individuals to feel more positively about the technology and its potential applications.
However, while positive feelings and acceptance of GAI becoming part of both entertainment and work/education spaces stand out in this survey, more specific questions produced a higher percentage of uncertain responses. This suggests that there is a perhaps a distinction between perceiving GAI positively and fully embracing it as part of society and the future. The majority desire for legislation and regulation seems to support this as well.
This brief survey suggests that while Singaporeans seem to grasp the potential of GAI and its applications, they also have reservations when it comes to fully embracing it. As moves are made to regulate, develop more applications for GAI, and combat possible pitfalls, it remains to be seen how local perspectives shift or change.