Public perceptions of the use of artificial intelligence in defence: a qualitative exploration

Hadlington, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-9095-0517, Karanika-Murray, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-4141-3747, Slater, J., Binder, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-1083-7109, Gardner, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-3443-7844 and Knight, S., 2024. Public perceptions of the use of artificial intelligence in defence: a qualitative exploration. AI and Society. ISSN 0951-5666

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There are a wide variety of potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in Defence settings, ranging from the use of autonomous drones to logistical support. However, limited research exists exploring how the public view these, especially in view of the value of public attitudes for influencing policy-making. An accurate understanding of the public’s perceptions is essential for crafting informed policy, developing responsible governance, and building responsive assurance relating to the development and use of AI in military settings. This study is the first to explore public perceptions of and attitudes towards AI in Defence. A series of four focus groups were conducted with 20 members of the UK public, aged between 18 and 70, to explore their perceptions and attitudes towards AI use in general contexts and, more specifically, applications of AI in Defence settings. Thematic analysis revealed four themes and eleven sub-themes, spanning the role of humans in the system, the ethics of AI use in Defence, trust in AI versus trust in the organisation, and gathering information about AI in Defence. Participants demonstrated a variety of misconceptions about the applications of AI in Defence, with many assuming that a variety of different technologies involving AI are already being used. This highlighted a confluence between information from reputable sources combined with narratives from the mass media and conspiracy theories. The study demonstrates gaps in knowledge and misunderstandings that need to be addressed, and offers practical insights for keeping the public reliably, accurately, and adequately informed about the capabilities, limitations, benefits, and risks of AI in Defence.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: AI and Society
Creators: Hadlington, L., Karanika-Murray, M., Slater, J., Binder, J., Gardner, S. and Knight, S.
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Date: 25 February 2024
ISSN: 0951-5666
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 08 Mar 2024 10:42
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2024 10:42

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