Nearly half of all Europeans do not know what algorithms are. Only 8 percent claim to know "a lot" about them. Most Europeans know very little about where and how algorithms are used. They are most likely to associate algorithms with personalized advertising or dating platforms and much less so with more sensitive areas, such as filtering in job application processes or in diagnosing illnesses. One-fifth of the respondents had absolutely no idea in which areas of life algorithms are used. These are the findings of a representative survey we have conducted in 28 EU member states with the support of the eupinions platform.
Most Europeans are relatively open to the use of algorithmic decisions in several areas, though this is limited primarily to technical areas such as spell-checking or navigation systems, which generally have no direct impact on people. A large majority – 64 percent – are uncomfortable with computer systems making decisions about them without involving a human being. Jörg Dräger, our Member of the Executive Board, says: