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Keeping it Human: A Focus Group Study of Public Attitudes Towards AI in Banking

Aitken, Mhairi and Ng, Magdalene and Toreini, Ehsan and van Moorsel, Aad and Coopamootoo, Kovila PL and Elliott, Karen (2020) 'Keeping it Human: A Focus Group Study of Public Attitudes Towards AI in Banking.', in ESORICS 2020: Computer Security. Cham: Springer, pp. 21-38. Lecture Notes in Computer Science., 12580


While there is substantial interest in ethical practice relating to Artificial Intelligence (AI), to date there has been limited consideration of what this means in the banking sector. This study aimed to address this gap in the literature through a qualitative study of public attitudes and perceptions of current and potential future uses of AI in banking. A series of focus groups were conducted with diverse members of the public. Focus group participants were largely positive about the role of AI in speeding up financial processes and increasing efficiency. Yet, they also expressed a number of concerns around potential negative impacts on society and consistently emphasized the importance of human judgement or oversight. The findings suggest a potential cognitive dissonance where people use new services due to perceived convenience or immediate benefits, while disliking or distrusting those services or holding concerns about their impacts on society. The findings illustrate that participants’ concerns did not typically relate to private or individual interests but more often to wider ethical and social concerns. The focus groups demonstrated the value of qualitative, deliberative methods to explore the nuances of public responses and highlighted the importance of taking account of conditions for public acceptability - rather than just customer uptake - in order to develop ethical practice and establish a social licence for uses of AI in banking.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:The final authenticated version is available online at
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:03 September 2021
Date of first online publication:24 December 2020
Date first made open access:03 September 2021

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