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Despite High Expectations for Future of Automation, Webby Research Finds Consumers Don’t Trust Automated Systems as Much as Humans

Webby Research Pinpoints Consumer Predictions for Machine Learning’s Future and Impact on Daily Lives, Internet Culture and World Economy

NEW YORK, October 19, 2017 — The Webby Awards today released research with YouGov, the data and analytics group, revealing that consumers are acutely aware of how pervasive automation is in our lives and culture, with 79% of U.S. adults indicating they had used some form of artificial intelligence in the last 12 months and 65% acknowledging that automation has a significant impact on their daily lives.

Though some survey respondents identified specific benefits of automation, including saving time (43%) and making it easier to obtain information (42%), the Webby research suggests that consumers are worried about the consequences of machine learning both globally and personally—with 45% citing risks to their own privacy and 57% saying they are concerned about the impact automation will have on the world economy in the next 10 years.

“We’re amazed by the extraordinary advancements we see across the Internet in machine learning, advanced algorithms, and bots, all of which have forced us to rethink the role technology plays in every aspect of our lives,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “But our research shows that even the most sophisticated automated systems and artificial intelligence ventures in the market have not inspired trust in everyday consumers, despite their expectations that automation will progress considerably in the next 10 years.”

The online survey, conducted by YouGov among over 3,000 U.S. adults aged 18+ on behalf of The Webby Awards in August 2017, explored what consumers believe the future holds for automation. When asked about the likelihood of an automated device, machine, or robot performing certain tasks within the next 10 years, respondents said it was likely that a driverless car would cause a car crash (78%), that automation would be responsible for misdiagnosing a serious medical condition (74%), or that a machine or robot would launch a cyber attack (70%). Respondents recognized the added convenience and efficiency automated devices would likely be able to do within the next decade, including:

  • Drive a car (80%)
  • Sell a product to a customer in a store (72%)
  • Deliver a product to your doorstep (80%)
  • Diagnose a serious medical condition (64%)
  • Buy and sell stocks (69%)
  • Teach a subject to students in a classroom (69%)
  • Hire a candidate for a job (54%)

The survey also revealed that consumers are not comfortable giving up personal decision-making power to automated systems when it concerns matters like health care (69%), finance (60%), food (56%), and music (53%). The data indicated the significant role that trust plays in determining consumer sentiments toward machine learning and automation. Giving driving directions (66%) was the only area that respondents said they would choose an automated system over a human. In every other area surveyed, respondents overwhelmingly said they would trust a human more than an automated system to:

  • Make a medical diagnosis (86%)
  • Manage a retirement portfolio (72%)
  • Manage a legal transaction like a will or home purchase (80%)
  • Provide a restaurant recommendation (72%)
  • Resolve a customer services issue (83%)

For complete survey results and methodology, please contact Casey Klurfeld at

The Early Entry Deadline to submit work for Webby Award consideration is Friday, October 27, 2017. Entrants can submit work across categories including: Websites, Film & Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Mobile Sites & Apps, Social, Podcasts & Digital Audio, and new this year, Games. For more information on the 22nd Annual Webby Awards and to enter, please visit


This survey was conducted online within the United States by YouGov on behalf of The Webby Awards from August 15-17, 2017, among 3,481 adults ages 18 and older. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+). This survey has been conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc panel of 1.2 million individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. Emails are sent to panellists selected at random from the base sample. The e-mail invites them to take part in a survey and provides a generic survey link. Once a panel member clicks on the link they are sent to the survey that they are most required for, according to the sample definition and quotas. (The sample definition could be “US adult population” or a subset such as “US adult females.”) Invitations to surveys don’t expire and respondents can be sent to any available survey. The responding sample is weighted to the profile of the sample definition to provide a representative reporting sample. The profile is normally derived from census data or, if not available from the census, from industry accepted data.


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About The Webby Awards:
Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Film & Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Mobile Sites & Apps, Social, Podcasts & Digital Audio, and Games. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide in 2016. The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: YouTube, WP Engine, Vitamin T, EY, Digiday, The Hollywood Reporter, Gixel, Product Hunt, and WNYC Studios.

About YouGov:
YouGov is an international data and analytics group. Our core offering of opinion data is derived from our highly participative panel of 5 million people worldwide. We combine this continuous stream of data with our deep research expertise and broad industry experience into a systematic research and marketing platform. Our suite of syndicated, proprietary data products includes YouGov BrandIndex, the daily brand perception tracker, and YouGov Profiles, our planning and segmentation tool. Our market-leading YouGov Omnibus provides a fast and cost-effective service for obtaining answers to research questions from both national and selected samples. Our custom research service offers a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research, tailored by our specialist teams to meet our clients’ specific requirements. With 30 offices in 20 countries and panel members in 38 countries, YouGov has one of the world’s top ten international market research networks. For more information visit

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Media Contact
Casey Klurfeld