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Edelman Trust Barometer: Business Key to Public Trust in AI and Other Innovations

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer again found business to be the most trusted institution, particularly as society weighs the pros and cons of innovation.  

By the numbers: Respondents were nearly two times more likely to say innovation has been poorly managed vs well managed, particularly by the government.

Why it matters: Innovation has become increasingly polarized across the globe. As societies weigh how to integrate innovations like AI into everyday life, business can foster greater trust in these technologies.

Business remains the only trusted institution when compared to NGOs, government, and the media. This continues a shift since 2021, when trust in business increased over the government. Respondents see government as less competent and ethical than business, although trust in companies headquartered in global powers, like the U.S., is declining. 

Public/private partnerships key to trust: 60% want to see business and government partner on developing and regulating innovations. The report noted that trust in institutions handling innovations is incredibly important as mistrust often leads to societal rejection of an innovation.

Economy impacts trust: Personal economic fears were top of mind for 88% of respondents, with social concerns like climate change, hackers, nuclear war, and information war rounding out the list.

Steps to increase trust: The report outlined four steps business, government, and others can take to increase trust in their ability to introduce and regulate innovations:

  • Focus on Implementation: When faced with breakthroughs like vaccines or AI, communicating the science behind the innovation is key to trust.

  • Business should partner with government: A majority believe this partnership is important to safeguard jobs and address ethical concerns.

  • Science must integrate with society: While still trusted, scientists are increasingly subject to scrutiny and should work on how they communicate with the public.

  • Listen to individuals’ concerns: Innovations are more likely to be accepted when individuals feel control over how innovations may impact their lives.

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Authors: Margaret Faso

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