The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust in Technology reveals that while the technology sector remains the most trusted industry sector overall, it is globally down four points year over year with important declines in key markets. It is also no longer the most trusted sector in 13 markets—a new record.
“The trend of eroding trust in the technology sector continues,” said Sanjay Nair, global Technology chair of Edelman. “The trust decline may be small, but it is reflective of consistent concerns that technology companies are not adequately preparing society for the impact of their innovations.”
Concerns around technology being out of control are wide-ranging and deep, with 61 percent of respondents feeling that the pace of technology is too fast, and that government does not understand emerging technologies enough to regulate them effectively. In addition, concerns are furthering distrust in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, with 53 percent of employees worried about job loss due to automation.
Important innovative technologies fueling sectors have significantly lower levels of trust: cell-cultured meats/gene editing is distrusted at 48 percent; cryptocurrency/blockchain is distrusted at 49 percent; driverless cars are neutral at 58 percent; artificial Intelligence is trusted at 63 percent; and personalized medicine/gene mapping is trusted at 64 percent.
This year’s survey has highlighted the correlation between trust in innovation and people’s desire for regulation. Respondents are less likely to think an emerging technology needs more regulation when they trust the technology – there is a 17-point gap between the need for regulation of trusted technologies as opposed to regulation of non-trusted technologies.
In times of economic uncertainty, the public generally turns to government for leadership, but this year’s results showed that 49 percent distrust government. To bridge the trust gap, the public is looking for business to straddle the void; specifically, 74 percent of respondents say they look to CEOs to take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it, nine points higher than 2018.
In short, tech’s halo effect is fading, and the sector is losing its trust advantage at a time when new technologies could put more doubts in stakeholder’s minds if the pros and cons of their innovations are not presented in a balanced way.
Other key findings from the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer include:
- Businesses can take specific actions to achieve a higher trust score. Respondents expect business to focus on paying fair wages and retraining.
- Employees react well to their employer using technology to add value, not just cut costs
- Worries around the quality of information persist with 57 percent of respondents agreeing that the media they use is contaminated with untrustworthy information and 76 percent fearful that false information or fake news is being used as a weapon
- More than 1 in 2 respondents worry about job loss due to automation
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About the Edelman Trust Barometer
The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 20th annual trust and credibility survey. The survey was powered by research firm Edelman Intelligence and consisted of 30-minute online interviews conducted between October 19 and November 18, 2019. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer online survey sampled more than 34,000 respondents, which includes 1,150 general population respondents across 28 markets and 200 informed public respondents in each market, except China and the U.S., which have a sample of 500 informed public respondents each. All informed public respondents met the following criteria: aged 25-64, college-educated; household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy issues in the news at least several times a week. For more information, visit https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer