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In Public understanding of science (Bristol, England)

Applications in artificial intelligence such as self-driving cars may profoundly transform our society, yet emerging technologies are frequently faced with suspicion or even hostility. Meanwhile, public opinions about scientific issues are increasingly polarized along the ideological line. By analyzing a nationally representative panel in the United States, we reveal an emerging ideological divide in public reactions to self-driving cars. Compared with liberals and Democrats, conservatives and Republicans express more concern about autonomous vehicles and more support for restrictively regulating autonomous vehicles. This ideological gap is largely driven by social conservatism. Moreover, both familiarity with driverless vehicles and scientific literacy reduce respondents' concerns over driverless vehicles and support for regulation policies. Still, the effects of familiarity and scientific literacy are weaker among social conservatives, indicating that people may assimilate new information in a biased manner that promotes their worldviews.

Peng Yilang


economic and social conservatism, political ideology, risk perception, scientific literacy, self-driving cars