New Poll: Americans Believe Sam Altman Saga Underscores Need for Government Regulations

A new poll from the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute (AIPI) shows that the majority of Americans believe that the events at OpenAI involving Sam Altman’s firing and rehiring days later increases the need for regulation of artificial intelligence. Additionally, the poll found that, when informed about the principles of Effective Accelerationism, voters take a dim view of it. The survey—conducted on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30—also found that when AI is used to commit crimes, a majority of Americans believe both the company who created the AI and the person who used it should be held legally liable. 

“The twists and turns of the Sam Altman saga at OpenAI made it abundantly clear to Americans that we cannot rely on private industry to govern AI; we need aggressive public policy interventions now to manage its development,” said Daniel Colson, Executive Director of the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute. “The general public is saying loud and clear that they do not think it is appropriate to trust the same people who develop AI technologies to ensure it is safe and that we need rules of the road for this immensely powerful and consequential technology.”


Some key findings from the poll, the toplines of which are here and crosstabs here

  • 59% of American voters think the leadership chaos at OpenAI increases the need for government regulation of AI, while just 13% say it reduces the need
  • Respondents generally think AI model developers, not end users, should be held liable for harms, with 68% agreeing that companies should be held liable if their models are used to create nude images without consent, 74% agreeing if a model is used to create a new virus, and 75% saying the company is liable if they use a model to racially discriminate against potential hires 
  • Opposing recent moves by the Pentagon, 74% said that automated drones should not be given the ability to make decisions on their own whether or not to kill humans, while just 10% said drones should be allowed to make such lethal decisions 
  • When informed about Effective Accelerationists, a group that believes that it’s important to do everything possible to speed up AI technology and that the benefits of speeding up AI development outweigh the risks, just 13% express a favorable opinion of them, while 65% view them unfavorably 


These findings come from the latest poll conducted by the Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute, a think tank dedicated to providing public opinion research and policy expertise on AI regulation. AIPI will continue to conduct frequent surveys to demonstrate where Americans stand on Artificial Intelligence issues and provide analysis on existing proposals coming out of Washington, D.C. With AI evolving every day and Americans wary about its rapid advancement, it is critical for policymakers to meet this moment with urgency and consideration of their constituents. 

AIPI was founded to serve as a go-to resource for gauging American public opinion as it relates to AI and provide policymakers and the media with a fuller understanding of the risks posed by artificial intelligence—and solutions for reining in the worst-case scenarios. By measuring public opinion, AIPI will show policymakers that being active in AI policy is not only the right path forward on the merits, but also that action is necessary to better represent their constituents.

With years of experience in the field, AIPI has a deep understanding of AI’s dangers and opportunities. The threat to humankind is alarming, and policymakers must understand not only the economic consequences but also the potential for the next phases of AI development to bring the risk of catastrophic events. AIPI proposes a way forward where lawmakers and influencers in Washington can be informed by a common, nonpartisan set of resources so they can speak collaboratively, productively, and urgently about the need to control AI development and regulate it to mitigate the most dire risks. AIPI will also advocate for a broad range of policies that impose guardrails and oversight on AI and the development of superintelligence.

About the Poll 

The survey—taken on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30—contained a sample of 1,238 registered voters in the US, using online respondents. The survey was conducted in English. Its margin of error is ±3.9 percentage points.

About The Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute

The Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute is an AI policy and research think tank founded by Daniel Colson to advocate for ethical oversight of AI for mitigating potential catastrophic risks posed by AI. AIPI’s core mission is to demonstrate that the general public has valid concerns about the future of AI and is looking for regulation and guidance from their elected representatives. If politicians want to represent the American people effectively, they must act aggressively to regulate AI’s next phases of development. AIPI seeks to work with the media and policymakers to inform them of the risks of artificial intelligence and develop policies that mitigate risks from emerging technology while still benefiting from artificial intelligence.

While much of the public discussion has been oriented around AI’s potential to take away jobs, AIPI will be focused on centering the importance of policies designed to prevent catastrophic outcomes and mitigate the risk of extinction. Currently, most of the AI space comprises those with a vested interest in advancing AI or are academics. The AI space lacks an organization to both gauge and shape public opinion on the issues—as well as to recommend legislation on the matter— and AIPI will fill that role. 

Ultimately, policymakers are political actors, so the country needs an institution that can speak the language of public opinion sentiment. AIPI’s mission is about being able to channel how Americans feel about artificial intelligence and pressure lawmakers to take action.

AIPI will build relationships with lawmakers by using polling to establish AIPI as a subject matter expert on AI safety and policy issues. Politicians are incentivized to support AI slowdown policies due to the strong majority of voters supporting slowdown and regulation. But AI is currently less salient as a political issue than other topics, as so far, there have only been moderate impacts from emerging AI tech. 

AI technological advancement is and will continue to be an evolving situation, and politicians, the media, and everyday Americans need real-time information to make sense of it all. AIPI’s polling will show where people stand on new developments and provide crucial policy recommendations for policymakers.  

About Daniel Colson

Daniel Colson is the co-founder and executive director of the AI Policy Institute. AIPI is a think tank that researches and advocates for government policies to mitigate extreme risks from frontier artificial intelligence technologies. Daniel’s research focuses on how AI weapons systems will impact military strategy and global political stability. Prior to AIPI, Daniel co-founded Reserve, a company focused on offering financial services in high-inflation currency regions lacking basic financial infrastructure, and the personal assistant company CampusPA. 

Daniel has spent the other half of his career as a researcher working at the intersection of theoretical sociology, history, military theory, and catastrophic risk mitigation. He helped Samo Burja write his seminal manuscript on sociology, Great Founder Theory, and has several forthcoming articles on the military strategic implications of Palantir’s AIP targeting and command product which has been operational in Ukraine for the past year. 

Learn more at or follow Daniel on Twitter at @DanielColson6 and Threads at Daniel.J.Colson.