What is AI anxiety and how can I manage it?

By Kate Norris,
updated on Jan 29, 2024

What is AI anxiety and how can I manage it?

If you’re feeling unsettled about the rapid advancements of AI and how new technology may define the future, you’re not alone. Here, we explore the phenomenon known as 'AI anxiety' and offer tips to combat these worries

AI has been steadily advancing for decades, but even experts are astonished by the rapid progress in recent years. From ChatGPT to composing music and even taking on roles traditionally held by humans, AI development is quickly evolving, leaving many uncertainties about its future impact.

According to a new study by meditation and mindfulness app Calm, nearly one-third of adults (29%) are anxious about AI, with 18% describing their feelings as fear or dread. 21% cited feeling optimistic or excited, yet expressed concerns about how AI may impact the future of work and human creativity.

What is AI anxiety?

The term ‘AI anxiety’ refers to the fear arising from problems originating from changes formed by AI technologies in personal or social life.

As humans, we often fear the unfamiliar. The eerie 'humanness' of the content AI tools can produce is likely a large factor of the reason this new technology may leave us feeling unsettled, particularly when it comes to job security. In fact, 21% of individuals aged 16-24 express worries about the prospect of AI replacing existing or future employment opportunities.

Interestingly, AI anxiety has been likened to the eco-anxiety that many young people feel over climate change, both of which can manifest as a deep concern and distress about the future and the planet.

Although experts note that some concern about AI advancements is justified, we’re reminded it’s important not to hit the panic button just yet. According to researchers, fears over AI taking over jobs may be excessive and human input remains invaluable in the workplace with AI’s perspective shifting from a threat to a supportive tool.

What can you do if you feel worried about the future of AI?

Stay informed but not alarmed

While there may be risks associated with AI, it’s important to remember the numerous benefits. For instance, AI has the potential to improve healthcare and scientific research, enhance accessibility and make many mundane tasks easier and more efficient. By focusing on the positive aspects, you can help alleviate some of your worries and stress and remain open-minded when it comes to learning about AI.

Recognise that AI is not a new concept

A lack of familiarity with AI may lead to feelings of anxiety but keep in mind that artificial intelligence has been around for quite some time. Even useful everyday tools such as Siri, Grammarly, Google Maps and Duolingo are considered AI technology, by taking a moment to consider how AI is already present in our lives, the concept may feel less intimidating.

Set healthy boundaries

If your anxiety is related to technology use, consider setting healthier boundaries. This may involve limiting screen time, taking breaks, or creating specific tech-free zones in your daily life. Disconnecting for a day or a weekend can provide a mental reset and help you gain perspective on the role of technology in your life.

Concentrate on the facts

Although AI can enhance human capabilities and make certain tasks easier, it's important to remember that technology lacks the qualities that make us human, such as creativity, intuition and emotional intelligence. Human characteristics help us navigate complex situations and make informed decisions, which AI cannot do.

Seek support

Discuss AI technology with friends, family, and colleagues, expressing your concerns can provide emotional support and different perspectives. If you're experiencing anxiety and feel you need additional help, speaking with a professional such as a counsellor or therapist can be beneficial, especially if these feelings are interfering with your daily life. A counsellor can provide coping strategies, and a safe space to explore and address your anxiety.

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