Public attitudes value interpretability but prioritize accuracy in Artificial Intelligence

Anne Marie Nussberger, Lan Luo, L. Elisa Celis, M. J. Crockett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


As Artificial Intelligence (AI) proliferates across important social institutions, many of the most powerful AI systems available are difficult to interpret for end-users and engineers alike. Here, we sought to characterize public attitudes towards AI interpretability. Across seven studies (N = 2475), we demonstrate robust and positive attitudes towards interpretable AI among non-experts that generalize across a variety of real-world applications and follow predictable patterns. Participants value interpretability positively across different levels of AI autonomy and accuracy, and rate interpretability as more important for AI decisions involving high stakes and scarce resources. Crucially, when AI interpretability trades off against AI accuracy, participants prioritize accuracy over interpretability under the same conditions driving positive attitudes towards interpretability in the first place: amidst high stakes and scarce resources. These attitudes could drive a proliferation of AI systems making high-impact ethical decisions that are difficult to explain and understand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5821
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Public attitudes value interpretability but prioritize accuracy in Artificial Intelligence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this