Do you think AI will have a positive or negative impact on the economy? How you answer may depend on your age.

Top takeaways

  • 77% of Canadians are familiar with ChatGPT. Age is major factor when it comes to use of ChatGPT, though, with 40% of those 18-34 having used the technology, but only 11% over the age of 55.
  • Canadians are evenly split on whether advancements in AI will have a positive, neutral, or negative effect on Canada’s economy. Younger Canadians and those with a Bachelor’s degree are more likely to have an optimistic outlook.
  • Only 24% of employed Canadians think AI will have a positive impact on their job, compared to 28% who predict a negative impact. The jury’s still out though: 49% of employed Canadians are neutral (39%) or they don’t know (10%).
  • 43% of Canadians want the government to play an early and active role in regulating AI, and the same percentage would like the government to wait and see, only intervening if necessary. Among undecided voters, however, 48% want the government to play an early and active role.

Most Canadians are familiar with ChatGPT

More than three-quarters of Canadians (77%) are familiar with ChatGPT, but only 29% have ever used it. 23% of Canadians have not heard of the technology.

Not surprisingly, young people are the most likely to have used ChatGPT, with 50% saying they either use it or have used it in the past. Among those 55 and older, only 11% have used ChatGPT.

Canadians are split on the economic impact of AI

29% of Canadians believe the economic impact will be positive, though only 6% believe that impact will be very positive. Slightly more think the impact will negative, and the largest share of Canadians either don’t know or think the impact will be neutral.

Canadians are also split on how they think AI will impact their job, with 28% saying it will have a negative impact and 24% saying it will have a positive impact. The largest share, again, are either neutral or say they don’t know.

Younger Canadians are more optimistic about AI’s impact on the economy

When you dig into the age breakdowns, however, we find that younger Canadians tend to be more optimistic about the impact of AI on the economy. 38% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 believe AI will impact the economy positively compared to just 22% 55 and older.

But many young Canadians think AI will have a negative impact on their job

Younger Canadians (18 to 34) are less likely to be neutral on the job impacts of AI. Even though they’re more likely to be optimistic than older Canadians, they’re more likely to predict negative impacts too—a plurality (37%) of younger Canadians predict that AI will have a negative impact on their job.

Canadians are open to government regulation of AI

43% want government to play an early and active role in regulating, while 43% want government to wait and see how the technology develops. Only 14% of Canadians want government to take a hands-off approach to AI regulation.

Survey methodology

This round of the What Canadians Think omnibus survey was conducted by Pluriel Research, using an online sample fielded September 7 – 8, 2023. The sample includes 1,001 respondents, and the final sample has been reweighted to account for remaining imbalances that differ from the Canadian adult population. The margin of error for an equivalently-sized probability sample is +/- 3% (19 times out of 20). Margins of error for subgroups of the sample would be larger, commensurate with their share of the total adult population.

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