The closest AI came to overall approval was among those who say they have heard a lot about artificial intelligence, with 50%, compared to 37% of those who heard a little about it, and 28% of those who have heard nothing.

AI for skin care but not for mental health

The survey also asked for views on four specific applications of AI in healthcare: tools for skin cancer screening; robots that can perform parts of surgery; recommendations for pain management following surgery; and chatbots designed to support a person’s mental health.

For AI to being used for their own skin cancer screening, 65% say that they would definitely or probably want it, while 55% believe that AI would make skin cancer diagnoses more accurate, and 52% describe it as a major advance.

When it comes to AI for pain management recommendations, however, only 31% said they would want this kind of AI guiding their pain management treatment, while two-thirds 67% say they would not, and only 26% believe that pain treatment would get better with AI, while 40% said it would make little difference, and 32% said it would lead to worse pain care. Meanwhile, a slightly larger percentage, 40%, were in favor of performing surgery with AI-driven robots, while 59% who say they would not want this.

The biggest resistance, though, came with the use AI chatbots designed to support mental health: 79% say they would not want to use an AI chatbot if they were seeking mental health support, while only 20% say they would.

In addition, 46% say these AI chatbots should only be used by people who are also seeing a therapist, while 23% of Americans say that such chatbots should be available to people regardless of whether they are also seeing a therapist. Nearly a third, 28%, said they should not be available to people at all.