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Amid Senate AI Hearing, Tech Oversight Project Spotlights National Poll Showing Americans Support Congressional AI Action

May 16, 2023

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman: “My worst fear is that we cause significant harm to the world.”

POLL: By 2-to-1 margin, voters nationwide want Congress to regulate AI, not leave it up to tech companies

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Tech Oversight Project spotlighted a nationwide survey conducted by Change Research showing that a majority of Americans support swift Congressional action to regulate AI, and that by a 2-to-1 margin, voters trust Congress to administer those safeguards, not tech companies. Only 15% of Americans believe that regulating AI would stifle innovation. During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on AI regulation, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman repeatedly doubled down on the need for Congressional action and also stated, “My worst fear is that we cause significant harm to the world…I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.

“Today’s hearing makes it crystal clear that developing artificial intelligence products are already leading to real-world harms that will increase rapidly as they become more widespread and fall into the hands of bad actors. While the public’s understanding of this emerging technology is still evolving, it is deeply telling that a majority of Americans are calling for swift action from Congress and that they trust lawmakers, and not Big tech, to install guardrails that will protect the American people,” said Kyle Morse, Deputy Executive Director of the Tech Oversight Project. “The threat of mass disinformation, eroding democracies worldwide, deepening societal inequality, and Big Tech’s track record of gatekeeping are obvious and loom large. Members of Congress need to heed their constituents’ call to protect market competition, data privacy, and the future of a free and open internet.”


  • By a 2-to-1 margin, voters prefer that Congress (41%), rather than the tech companies (20%) be the driving force behind policies and regulations.
  • 54% believe that Congress should take swift action to regulate AI in a way that promotes privacy, fairness, and safety, and ensures maximum benefit to society with minimal risks.
  • Only 15% of Americans believe that regulating AI will somehow stifle innovation.
  • 1-in-3 Americans are still making up their minds, showing how public policy will shape public opinion.
  • There is no significant difference between voters in each party – Democrats favor Congressional action by a 42% to 22% margin, and Republicans prefer it by a 43% to 17% margin.

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