The AXA Future Risks Report 2023: Risks related to AI and data feature in the top 10 for the first time while cyber security climbs the rankings

30 October 2023

Posted in Campaigns

  • AXA’s annual survey explores what the public and experts cite as the biggest potential future risks both to the UK and globally
  • For the first time, risks related to artificial intelligence appear in the top five for UK experts and top 10 for the general population
  • Cyber security moves up to third for both UK experts and the general population
  • UK continues to rank climate change as the number one future risk to impact society over the next five to 10 years, in line with all other global regions
  • In the UK, only 19% believe that public authorities are prepared for cyber risks and only 25% think they are prepared for climate change risks

New research published by AXA today reveals that risks relating to artificial intelligence (AI) and data feature in the top 10 for both UK experts and the general public for the first time.

The 2023 AXA Future Risks Report shows that the UK public are more worried about the impact of AI than their European counterparts, who don’t rank it as one of their top 10 concerns.

Publication of the report follows news of Government plans to explore the safety of AI with worldwide experts. On Thursday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will create an AI taskforce, an AI safety institute and will propose a global expert panel on AI at the AI Global Summit.

In this latest AXA research, UK experts and the public also ranked cyber risks in their top three, alongside those surveyed in America, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

From a list of potential risks that could impact the world over the next 10 years, risks related to AI and big data were ranked fifth by UK experts and 10th by the UK’s general population. The report highlights general concerns about technology, with the top four rapidly emerging risks all focused on this topic. In the UK, half of those questioned believe that technological advances create more risks than they solve.

In the UK, experts and the public both ranked climate change as the most significant risk for the third year in a row. Globally, both groups agreed that climate change has the potential to have the biggest impact on society in the next five to 10 years.

The findings are revealed in this year’s AXA Future Risks Report, the 10th edition of a global study which measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks via a survey of more than 3,200 risk experts and 15,000 members of the public. The report is produced in partnership with research institute IPSOS.

In the UK, 86% of those questioned believe there is risk of a cyber-attack that would cripple the UK, with 79% concerned about the risk of them personally suffering from identity theft, bank account fraud or social media hacking. Experts are equally concerned about cyber risks, with 96% believing there is risk of a cyber-attack in the UK.

Energy risks also continue to be a concern. There have been significant rises in energy costs caused by the war in Ukraine and, combined with the wider cost of living crisis, the findings show that there remains a concern in the UK that these factors could lead to social unrest.

The research revealed that there was little confidence in the authorities being prepared to manage these future risks, with just 26% of the public saying they felt confident about management of risks related to AI and 20% for climate change in the UK. When the general public was asked about levels of vulnerability, 81% agreed that they felt more vulnerable than five years ago.

More hopefully, however, the findings also showed that UK experts (70%) and the general public (74%) believe that individuals, economies and society have what it takes to manage future risks. When it comes to the insurance industry, three-quarters (77%) of the UK general public believe insurers will play an important role in limiting future risks, alongside 93% of UK experts.

The study highlights the crucial importance of policymakers and private sector organisations working together to help protect against emerging risks. Insurers can play an important role in this collaboration by providing innovative risk management tools and helping consumers and businesses to assess and plan for the risks they face now and in the future.

AXA UK has long called on the Government to better prepare for future risk with the creation of a dedicated taskforce and a Minister for Resilience. AXA UK therefore welcomes Labour’s commitment to appoint a Minister for Resilience and recommends that such a taskforce should work in partnership with insurers and other risk experts.

AXA’s research reflects public concern, especially in the areas of AI, big data and cyber security.

With the rapid evolution of disruptive technologies and the digitisation of our daily lives, it’s perhaps no surprise that people are increasingly concerned about risks related to artificial intelligence and cyber security. It’s also worrying to see so many people feeling more vulnerable and a continuing lack of confidence in the authorities to manage these types of future risks, and we renew our call on the Government to mirror Labour’s recent announcement and create a taskforce to focus on these issues.

More positively, the report confirms that people do recognise the important safety net that insurance provides and demonstrates the essential role the sector plays in providing risk management advice and solutions. This gives the industry a great foundation to build on in coordination with other organisations to help mitigate these risks and provide reassurance to those who are concerned about an uncertain future.

Tara Foley, CEO at AXA UK and Ireland
Headshot of Tara Foley, Chief Executive Officer of AXA UK and Ireland