Young Chinese Have Almost No Concerns About AI, Survey Finds

by micheljwpn

Young Chinese hold overwhelmingly positive attitudes toward the rise of generative artificial intelligence and are mostly concerned about how to profit from the new technology, a new survey has found.

Unlike in the West, where public skepticism toward AI runs deep, China’s younger generations appear to be embracing generative AI with few reservations, according to the report by the research institute Just So Soul.

Just So Soul — which is run by Soul, the Chinese social app with over 40 million monthly users — polled nearly 3,500 young Chinese about their views toward generative AI for the report, which was published on Thursday. Around 80% of the respondents were from Gen-Z, the company said.

Over 60% of the young Chinese surveyed said they either “like” or “love” generative AI, while fewer than 3% said they “dislike” or “hate” it. That’s an even more positive response than Just So Soul received in a similar survey last year, when 43% of respondents said they either “like” or “love” the technology.

Young Chinese are regular users of generative AI products, according to the study. Only 4.8% of respondents said they’ve never used generative AI, while over 90% said they have used it.

Younger people were the most likely to regularly use AI products, with 18% of respondents born after 2000 saying they use generative AI “almost every day.” Text generation tools such as ChatGPT are the most popular generative AI products in China, the survey found.

Over half of the young people surveyed said they either already make money using generative AI tools or have plans to do so. The people already using AI to generate income were most likely to work in professions including advertising, communications, and the arts, according to the report.

Though overseas generative AI products aren’t easily accessible in China, a shadow market has quickly emerged in the country in which vendors offer to help users gain access to foreign software tools.

As early as 2022, Chinese vendors were offering to share invitation codes to platforms still under testing. On Xianyu, an online marketplace owned by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, users offer to generate images according to clients’ specifications using overseas tools such as Midjourney for as little as a few dollars.

An illustrator named Yang Qian told domestic media that she had started offering to create images using generative AI in 2022, receiving her first commission from a cosmetics company just a month later.

According to the report, the top reason young Chinese cite for favoring generative AI is its ability to improve their work efficiency. The main reason cited for opposing the technology is the prospect of AI replacing humans in the workplace.

Aside from using AI to earn money, young Chinese also expressed an open attitude toward socializing with AI. Around one-third of respondents said they were willing to make friends with an AI bot.

“This is a surprising finding,” Just So Soul said in its report. “It indicates that our social network isn’t just limited to chatting with real people, but we can also find emotional companionship via AI.”

Younger people were the most likely to be willing to use AI companions, with 32.8% of respondents born after 2000 saying they enjoyed chatting with AI bots. People said that AI bots made good conversation partners because they didn’t make them feel awkward, responded quickly, and were willing to chat about anything.

A majority of young Chinese agreed that generative AI could be useful in alleviating people’s loneliness. Only 8% of respondents said they completely disagreed with that idea.

The concept of AI companions has gained widespread attention in China in recent years, with the Microsoft-developed AI girlfriend Xiaoice attracting millions of users. Services offering to bring back dead relatives as “griefbots” have also spread quickly on Chinese platforms.

(Header image: Teera Konakan/Getty Creative/VCG)

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