Widespread Concern Over AI Misuse for Crimes; Survey Finds Worry Shared by All Age Groups

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AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters are placed on computer motherboard in this illustration taken on June 2.

The Yomiuri Shimbun’s recent nationwide survey revealed a high level of awareness of the danger of misuse of generative artificial intelligence for crimes and manipulation of public opinion through disinformation, regardless of respondents’ age or their broader attitudes toward generative AI.

When people were asked to select multiple responses from a list of nine concerns about the use and spread of generative AI, the top concern was “misuse in crime,” chosen by 65% overall. Crime was the top concern of each age group, selected by 66% of those aged 18-39, 68% of those aged 40-59, and 63% of those 60 and over.

Concern about the use of AI in crime was not limited to those with a generally negative view of generative AI, but was also prevalent among those who are positive about it. Of the 40% who said they have “greater expectations” than concerns about the spread of generative AI, 63% chose “misuse in crime” as something they are worried about. This was not much different from the 69% who chose “misuse in crime” among the 58% of all respondents who said they had “greater concerns” than expectations.

Even among the 52% of all respondents who said they had “never” believed false information circulating on the Internet or other media, 65% were concerned about misuse in crimes.

A similar trend was seen over concern about manipulation of public opinion, with 79% of those who said they had “greater expectations” for the spread of generative AI saying they “feel” concerns about manipulating public opinion. Among the 21% who responded to a question about the development and regulation of AI by saying “development should be emphasized,” including those who said it should be emphasized “more or less,” 76%, also said they “feel” anxiety about manipulation of public opinion.

Tatsuhiko Yamamoto, a professor of constitutional law at Keio University, said: “It is difficult to discern false information that misuses AI, and the survey results show widespread concern about the collapse of democracy and criminal damage. Transparency as to whether or not information is created by generative AI is not mandated in Japan, and the Diet needs to quickly discuss legislation to prevent the risk.”