A majority of respondents to a recent survey on their opinions about AI felt that people will develop emotional relationships with AI, think it would be OK if companies developed “sentient” AI, and that the dangers of AI development will outweigh its benefits.

Yeah, we’re clueless.

To say that most people are conflicted about AI would be an understatement. We’re happily using AI to do things we can’t do, like make art, and yet we expect it to cause job losses (potentially our own). We think artists should be compensated when AI copies or emulates their work, but we don’t want limitations on our capacity to use it for such purposes.

We think there should be all sorts to regulations to protect us from AI lying to us or posing as us, but we have no idea how those protections could be enforced.

We’re slightly pessimistic about AI’s impact on the world even as we imagine it will invent new medical treatments and “economic empowerment” (whatever that means). More than a third of the respondents to the survey expect AI to wipe out human civilization.

But that’s OK. Two-thirds are fine with companies building sentient AI, and half think it’s a foregone conclusion.

We’re not just clueless, we’re stupid.

No, we’re being misled.

The survey reiterated the fact that folks are having fun with AI, “generating music and videos, creating stories, and tinkering with photos.” And, above all, we’re using AI like ChatGPT and Bing to answer questions.

Talk about trivial pursuit.

I think that’s the point of easy access to generative AI tools. It gets people comfortable with the idea that machines can appear to think and communicate like human beings. Sure, it’s a scary proposition if you think about it too hard, but nobody seems to be thinking about it too hard. It’s just fun to use, and even productive to use at work here and there.

But there are vast, more substantive and transformational changes underway. AI is redefining how we work and live. Even the most overt warnings of “existential risk” serve only to distract us from the risk inherent in the changes happening right now.

Have fun. Be happy. Stay clueless.

[This post originally appeared at Spiritual Telegraph]