As global leaders convene in Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a recent survey conducted by Edelman highlights widespread public distrust in the management and regulation of new technologies by both businesses and governments. Carried out under the theme “Rebuilding Trust,” the survey reveals that 39 percent of respondents lack confidence in how innovations are introduced and regulated, with only 22 percent expressing satisfaction.
Notably, the United States stands out as a hotspot of skepticism, with 56 percent of respondents believing that innovation is poorly managed, indicating a significant divide. Despite the pervasive mistrust, the survey reveals a paradox wherein businesses are considered the most trusted entities to integrate innovation into society, surpassing non-governmental organizations, government bodies, and the media.
Conducted in 28 countries with 32,000 participants, the survey suggests that while the public is wary of how innovations are managed, there remains a level of trust in businesses to responsibly incorporate technological advancements.
The report points to instances of pushback against technology, citing Beijing’s reversal of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in response to online resistance, US Republican opposition to electric vehicles, and Hollywood writers’ resistance to the use of artificial intelligence in scriptwriting.
The survey indicates that resistance to innovation is often politically charged, with higher levels of opposition observed among right-leaning individuals, particularly in the United States, Australia, Germany, and Canada. Richard Edelman, the CEO of Edelman, emphasizes the need for businesses to pay attention to public acceptance as much as research and development.
Recognizing that innovation should be a growth enabler, he underscores that its potential might be hindered if businesses neglect the importance of gaining public trust.
The findings underscore a call for a more holistic approach, emphasizing not only technological advancements but also the communication and societal integration of these innovations.
In addition to the global perspective, the Trust Barometer in the survey points out that Britain finds itself at the bottom of the trust scale, scoring 39 percent. This metric, providing an average percentage of trust in NGOs, businesses, government, and media, indicates a notable lack of trust in various institutions in the United Kingdom.