Artificial intelligence is undeniably the story of the year. To better understand the rapid rise and adoption of generative AI tools, The Verge and Vox Media partnered to conduct a representative study of how adult Americans are using and thinking about AI. The Verge published its findings in a new report “Hope, Fear and AI,” following up on major consumer tech trust surveys conducted in 2017, 2020, and 2021.
Because AI is top of mind for Vox Media’s partners, we also wanted to share our key findings for brands looking to understand and leverage AI tools.
- 1 in 3 Americans have already used an AI tool: Despite the limited time that generative artificial intelligence tools have been widely available, they have already been used by 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 18 — nearly 80 million people.
- AI is dominating our conversations, especially for Gen Z: 44 percent of the US population has been in conversations where AI has been mentioned “several times a week,” with AI being a part of Gen Z conversations most frequently (61 percent).
- Nearly half of Americans believe AI will disrupt their workplace: 47 percent of Americans see AI being very or moderately disruptive to the sector they work in, and about a third of Americans (34 percent) think that change is either already happening or is going to happen within the next year.
- Creative tools are driving the fastest adoption: 91 percent of AI users report that they used AI tools for creating written materials, images, music, or videos — a signal for how AI might be integrated into our day-to-day in the near-term future. However, search platforms like Google and Microsoft’s Bing are betting on AI’s ability to redefine search.
- Not all Americans see a use for AI: Creating a consistent use case for AI will be key for mass consumer adoption since 67 percent of those who haven’t used an AI tool before claim the main reason centers on not having a reason to use one (41 percent).
- Consumers want AI usage to be clearly disclosed: 78 percent of Americans 18 years of age or older believe that AI-generated digital content should be required to clearly state that it was created with AI, an important lesson for brands looking to deploy AI tools in their products or marketing.
- Users will push the boundaries: Like with all new tools, humanity has a tendency to test the waters in terms of what’s possible. Companies will need to try to anticipate where and when AI will be used for unintended purposes.
- Most Americans agree that we will need significant societal changes to adjust to AI: This technology is undeniably powerful and will evolve rapidly. 69 percent of Americans 18 years of age or older believe that society will need to make significant changes in order to adjust to a post-AI world.
Awareness and usage of AI tools has exploded in 2023
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, rumblings were emerging about a new trend: generative AI. Now, six months later, AI seems to be dominating the public consciousness, appearing on the evening news, social media feeds, and even in political advertising.
Our April 2023 survey found that 33 percent of adult Americans reported that they have already used an AI tool. This would amount to 80 million adults (18-plus) in the US alone. More than half of adults in younger generations report having tried an AI tool: 54 percent of Gen Z and 52 percent of millennials.
AI has certainly captured the public imagination. 44 percent of Americans say they’ve been in conversations where AI has been mentioned “several times a week,” with a staggering 61 percent of Gen Z reporting frequent conversations about AI.
Digging into the specific AI tools that most Americans have encountered, no single AI tool holds the majority market share, but ChatGPT has a strong initial lead. However, with recent viral moments on TikTok, awareness is increasing around Adobe’s AI tools.
AI Tools Awareness
|Tool||I've used it||I've heard of it|
|Tool||I've used it||I've heard of it|
|Bing with ChatGPT||12%||34%|
|My AI (Snapchat)||12%||33%|
Among those who have used AI tools, two popular use cases include: answering a question or providing a summary of information about a topic (68 percent), and using AI for brainstorming efforts and generating new ideas (54 percent). Once users have interacted with an AI tool, they are eager to enhance their experience by visiting guides, watching videos, and reading content on how they can write smarter prompts, with the goal of getting better outputs (78 percent).
But AI tools aren’t necessarily ready for daily usage. The appeal wears off for many consumers over time; 51 percent of those who have used an AI tool are still not finding a good reason to use AI “often” just yet. But AI tools are attracting some power users. Among those who have used AI tools, 22 percent report using them daily, and 32 percent report using them several times a week.
Emerging tech trends aren’t a new phenomenon; the last few years have also seen hype around the metaverse and blockchain technologies like cryptocurrencies and NFTs. But most Americans believe that AI will have a more significant impact on society than any other tech trend. 74 percent of Americans predicted that AI will have the biggest impact on society, ahead of solar energy (73 percent), electric vehicles (69 percent), the metaverse (51 percent), cryptocurrencies (52 percent), and NFTs (34 percent). Many Americans believe that peak AI disruption will come very soon — 34 percent within the next year and 37 percent in the next two to three years. 27 percent of Gen Z believes that AI is already at peak disruption.
With so much hype — and so much real adoption — brands seeking to remain relevant in 2023 and 2024 should consider how to thoughtfully engage with AI tools and content. And with the rapid pace of technological change, consumers are both savvier about and more skeptical of new trends. Brands need to ask how their product or marketing initiative is creating long-term value for their customers.
AI tools are already seeing mass adoption in US workplaces
One of the promises of generative AI is its ability to make everyday tasks a little easier, freeing up time to focus on more important items. Many companies are already implementing AI tools into project management software like Notion and Google Workspace tools like Google Docs, as recently unveiled at Google’s annual Google I/O event. Over half (55 percent) of the population who has used AI is already starting to build it into their personal workflows.
Among users of AI tools:
- 64 percent found AI tools to be useful in their job or business
- 60 percent feel that AI tools have made them more productive
- 58 percent said AI tools have improved the quality of their work
- 55 percent are building AI into their workflows for specific tasks
- 52 percent believe AI tools have allowed them to pursue new revenue streams
When asked how they would like to use AI tools, many respondents cited administrative tasks:
- 67 percent would use AI for note-taking or transcribing
- 63 percent would like to use AI for scheduling meetings and appointments
But AI usage already goes beyond simple automated tasks. More than half of all users feel that AI tools have helped them create something they wouldn’t be able to create without it.
More technical use cases for AI tools are a minority of overall usage, with 18 percent of respondents using AI tools for computer code and 18 percent for Excel scripts (with varying levels of experience). But of those users, 60 percent believed the AI tool generated better Excel scripts, and 59 percent believed it generated better computer code than they could have produced themselves. While our survey focused on a representative sample of American adults, a subset of those polled were weekly readers of The Verge, who tend to work in tech or in roles adjacent to the technology sector. Nearly 3 in 4 Verge visitors have used an AI tool, and they reported being more frequent users, with 67 percent using AI tools at least several times a week.
Going forward, 42 percent of employed Americans see all or most of their job responsibilities being impacted at some point by AI. For Gen Z, 54 percent believe they will be impacted. 62 percent of Americans say they feel equally or more anxious as they are excited about AI’s potential impact on their personal or professional lives.
Perhaps more concerning, employers should recognize that 63 percent of Americans believe that AI will take away more jobs than it creates, potentially creating a negative reaction toward AI in our everyday lives as its impact continues to accelerate.
As companies begin to incorporate AI into their business practices, leaders should understand how their employees are currently using AI tools, understand where these emerging tools can help them excel in their day to day, and deploy strategies with the understanding that everyone works differently. A simplified way of looking at this is how many individuals today still prefer to handwrite notes in meetings to better retain information. AI tools should not and will not replace human creativity, just augment our behaviors going forward.
Most Americans want transparency, fact-checking, and some government oversight
Most Americans (69 percent) agree that society will need to make significant changes in order to adjust to AI. Almost as many Americans (62 percent) believe that we don’t yet fully understand the consequences of the AI being developed. And fewer than half of Americans (46 percent) believe AI will ultimately change society for the better in the long run.
One major issue is misinformation. 71 percent of Americans think AI trained on data from the internet will always be problematic because of the amount of misinformation on the internet. And while 65 percent of consumers believe that they can still distinguish human voices from AI-generated audio, a little over half say they cannot discern an AI-generated or “deepfaked” video, ad, or social media post.
When asked how they would like to see society regulate AI tools, Americans asked for:
- Content disclosure: 78 percent of Americans believe digital content that is created with AI should be required to clearly state that it was created with AI.
- Government oversight: 76 percent believe regulations and laws need to be developed regarding the development of AI. At the same time, 68 percent believe that our government lacks the technological know-how to regulate AI effectively.
- Fact-based models: 76 percent think AI models should be required to be trained on datasets that have been fact-checked.
- Artist credit: 70 percent of Americans agree that artists should be compensated when AI creates content that is explicitly designed to resemble their work.
But many actual AI users do not follow these ethical guidelines in their own practice. 76 percent of Americans said that it should be illegal to create video and audio deep fakes that imitate a real person without that person giving explicit permission. However, of the Americans who have used creative AI tools, 47 percent have created images, audio, or videos using the likeness of a well-known figure. Nearly half of current AI users (44 percent) report that they have tried to figure out ways around rules and restrictions put in place by an AI tool’s developers.
Overall, Americans are concerned about the future implications of AI. 72 percent believe that it is not safe for AI to be as widely available as it is without knowing more about the dangers or downsides of what this technology is capable of. 68 percent believe the release of new AI tools to the public should be halted until government regulations around AI are put into place. And an even bigger majority, 79 percent of Americans, think companies that create AI tools should have some culpability in the actions and output of their AI, just as they would for the actions and output of any of their employees.
As we head into the 2024 election cycle, it’s very likely we’re going to see a rush of AI-generated content flood our social media feeds with false imagery and deep faked video / audio. The novelty will quickly wear off, as AI-based content will also fill other media channels with inferior information and low-quality content. While many brands will benefit from and monetize this in the short term, it’s the brands that show leadership, focus on quality, and practice disclosure that will withstand this wave of AI-generated content and succeed in the long run.
How you can join the conversation around AI
Here at Vox Media and The Verge, we’re obsessed with quality storytelling and journalism. As artificial intelligence continues to infiltrate our lives, our editorial brands will help guide our audience of over 100 million people here in the US through this next wave of innovation, discerning what is hype and what will have a real impact on humanity.
This fall, Vox Media’s annual Code Conference will return for its 20th year, featuring The Verge’s editor-in-chief, Nilay Patel, Platformer founder Casey Newton, and CNBC senior media and tech reporter Julia Boorstin. Artificial intelligence will be a central theme of this year’s conference, as tech, media, and political leaders will grapple with AI’s impact on society and our democracy.
Reach out to email@example.com if you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities at Code.
Special thanks to these individuals who helped bring this survey to life:
- Edwin Wong – SVP, Insights and Research, Vox Media
- Sebastian Fernandez – Founder, The Circus
- Kara Verlaney – Editorial Operations Manager, The Verge
- Jacob Kastrenakes – Deputy Editor, The Verge
- Will Joel – Senior Creative Director, The Verge
- Helen Havlak – Publisher, The Verge
- Nilay Patel – Editor-in-Chief, The Verge
- Andrew Melnizek – VP and GM, The Verge and Polygon
- Elizabeth Hickson – Copy Editor, The Verge
In April 2023, the Vox Media Insights and Research team surveyed more than 2,000 consumers with our partner, The Circus.
The Circus is an insight and data storytelling consultancy that specializes in original trend research, thought leadership and strategic brand positioning rooted in a human-data-centric approach.