Poll: Americans Concerned About ChatGPT-4o Launch, Support Federal Legislation After Disbanding of OpenAI’s Long-Term Safety Team

After being shown videos of the GPT-4o demos and being informed of the disbanding of OpenAI’s safety team, 52% of Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of OpenAI. That compares to the 54% who hold a favorable view of Microsoft and 61% who hold a favorable view of Google.

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans say the recent demo and release of OpenAI’s GPT-4o makes them more worried about artificial intelligence’s growth, and just 24% say it makes them excited, according to a new poll from The Artificial Intelligence Policy Institute. The poll tested public opinion on AI and recent developments at OpenAI from the launch of GPT-4o to the disbandment of their long-term safety team. 

American voters were shown videos from OpenAI’s live demos of GPT-4o, and 40% of them said the demos were more impressive than they expected from AI. 38% said it was less impressive, and 22% were unsure. Interestingly, among age brackets, the highest share of people who said GPT-4o is more impressive than they expected was respondents ages 18 to 44. 43% of them were more impressed, compared to 40% of those ages 45 to 64% who were more impressed, and just 34% of those aged 65+ were impressed. 41% of those aged 65+ said the GPT-4o demos were less impressive than what they expected from AI. 

After being shown the live demos of GPT-4o, 57% of voters are worried, and just 24% are excited. Those worried include 62% of Republicans, 59% of independents, and 50% of Democrats. 58% say the AI technology displayed in the demo will improve rapidly, compared to 18% who say the technology has mostly peaked and will improve slowly. 

The poll informed respondents about the recent departures of many of OpenAI’s safety researchers and the disbandment of their Long Term AI Risk team. The survey noted that the outgoing head of Open AI’s safety team, Jan Lieke, recently said that his team hadn’t been given the resources they needed for their safety research, and Open AI had prioritized new products instead. In response, 47% of voters say these developments make them view Open AI less favorably, 44% say they make no difference, and 9% say it makes them view OpenAI favorably. 

59%—including 61% of Republicans and 64% of independents—say these developments at OpenAI increase the case for government regulation of AI companies. When asked whether OpenAI should more focus on AI product development or on AI safety—and being informed of the pros and cons of each position—67% say OpenAI should focus on AI safety. Additionally, 77%—including 82% of Democracy, 71% of independents, and 79% of Republicans—say the government should step in to mandate safety testing for powerful AI models rather than leave testing up to the companies themselves. 

“Last week alone saw several major developments at OpenAI that demonstrate just how fast the AI train is speeding along and how far off the tracks the technology could go if we don’t install safeguards,” said Daniel Colson, the Executive Director of AIPI, “Americans are experiencing a great deal of anxiety when watching theses GPT-4o demos, and the coinciding breakup of OpenAI’s safety team only increases it. Our polling shows that all parties, from companies to the public to elected officials, will benefit from federal legislation to safeguard this technology. And considering where the AI conversation was just one year ago when deep fakes of the pope were breaking the news to where it is now, we must act quickly before it’s too late.”

More key findings from the poll: 

  • 52% of Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of OpenAI. That compares to the 54% who hold a favorable view of Microsoft and 61% who hold a favorable view of Google. 
  • When asked which they thought best describes AI, 62% say it is a uniquely powerful technology, unlike other technology that came before us; it will dramatically change society. Just 18% agree with the other option that AI is a technology like many others that came before us; it will produce modest changes in society. 
  • 66% of Americans say that reducing harm from the misuse of these models by bad actors must be a policy priority over supporting the growth and spread of the benefits of these models. 

About the Poll 

The poll surveyed 1,089 registered voters on May 18. The poll was conducted in English, and its margin of error is ±5.2 percentage points.

See full toplines and crosstbas here.

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.  

Learn more at https://www.theaipi.org/ or follow Daniel on Twitter at @DanielColson6