Americans learning AI are mostly teaching themselves

Familiarity with artificial intelligence is high across age groups, but younger people seem to be actually using it more, according to the Ipsos Consumer Tracker

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
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The Ipsos Consumer Tracker asks Americans questions about culture, the economy and the forces that shape our lives. Here's one thing we learned this week.

AI experts

We are not AI experts … yet?

Why we asked: If your LinkedIn feed looks like mine, seems everyone is a generative artificial intelligence expert already. But assuming that my LinkedIn feed is not exactly representative, we thought we’d ask people how they feel about their AI skills. Would the Dunning-Kruger effect be in effect?

What we found: Well, no. We seem to know what we don’t know. Only 3% of us think we are experts in generative AI (I guess I follow all of them on social). 29% say they have some knowledge. 45% have very little knowledge and 23% don’t know nothing about nothing when it comes to generative AI.

Learning about AI tools

Those who are learning about AI tools are largely teaching themselves

Why we asked: So how are those 31% who at least think they who know something about generative AI learning about it, we wondered.

What we found: While familiarity with AI broadly is reasonably high across age groups (79% for 18-34, 69% for 35-54 and 55% for 55+), younger folks (under 35) seem to be actually using it more. Those who said they know about AI in the previous question are mostly teaching themselves (52%) or learning from social media and online tutorials (46%), which is essentially teaching themselves, too. Both means are highly popular with the under 35s (roughly two in three). Half of that cohort are also learning from friends and family. Between a quarter and a third of those under 55 are learning from employers, and 20% say they are taking some sort of formal course.

AI training

Most are interested in getting more AI training

Why we asked: If we’re not experts, do we want to become more expert?

What we found: Yup. Most (55%, 15% very interested) would be interested in learning how to use generative AI tools. And here we see a pretty simple narrative. We aren’t experts yet. Those who are learning are mostly self-taught. And we have more than half the population interested in learning about these tools, whether they know about AI now or not (this question was asked of everyone.) So there’s a lot of opportunity for traditional players and upstarts alike to teach us and train us, either in the workplace or education system or for those self-learners. Maybe AI will wind up teaching us how to use AI. Granted, the education system itself seems to be struggling with how to teach AI and let it be used/banned from the class room. Pro tip, one way to learn about AI: Read professor Ethan Mollick’s substack.

More insights from this wave of the Ipsos Consumer Tracker:

More Americans plan to travel for the holidays this year

Half of Americans would be interested in a weight loss medication

People care more about the Israel-Hamas war than Trump's latest legal challenges

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab