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Navigating the Future: The Growing Need for AI Literacy

If you haven’t figured out what to make of artificial intelligence (AI), you are not alone. AI has advanced rapidly in recent years and is quickly becoming a fundamental technology upon which our world operates and interacts. But people tend to fear what they do not understand, and data suggests that a growing share of Americans report feeling more concerned than excited about AI.

Thus, there is a growing need to equip the public with the skills to recognize AI applications and responsibly utilize AI in their daily lives. Public trust is essential for the effective integration of AI into society, and trust can be built through transparency, accountability, and a shared understanding of AI fundamentals. The Bipartisan Policy Center is dedicated to contributing resources and scaling ongoing efforts to educate policymakers and the public on the basics of AI.

This blog explores the various benefits of widespread AI literacy and outlines strategies to enhance public understanding of AI.

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Principles of AI Literacy

AI literacy is the ability to recognize, use, and evaluate AI technologies. It involves knowing what AI can and can’t do, how it works, and its risks and benefits. AI literacy helps us understand fundamental questions like:

What is AI?

While there is no consensus on a single definition of AI, understanding basic terminology, concepts, and applications can help develop shared understanding and unravel common AI misconceptions. For example, key AI terminology includes data, algorithms, and machine learning.

Where is it?

It is important to recognize real-world applications of AI in daily life. You might interact with an AI system on your digital device, on the internet, in the workplace, or out in public.

How does it work?

AI systems require human input to reach decisions. Knowing how to use an AI product safely will ensure that the AI system serves its intended purpose effectively and responsibly.

Who does it impact?

Given the deep interconnection between technology and society, AI has the potential to affect people from all walks of life and impact every sector of the economy. Decisionmakers must think critically about the ethical implications of AI applications, specifically those that impact public health, privacy, and safety.

Goals of AI Literacy

AI literacy is important for multiple reasons:

Enhances trust and safety:

AI literacy empowers users by placing them in the driver’s seat when it comes to using AI devices and managing their relationship with the technology. Misunderstanding and mistrust serve as key barriers to AI adoption, but the ability to live, learn, and work harmoniously with AI helps remedy fear of the unknown. AI-literate consumers are more likely to be risk-aware, which ensures that AI systems perform safely and as intended.

Promotes oversight and accountability:

Learning about AI encourages society to participate in critical conversations around AI governance, including the policies, guidelines, and regulations that manage risks and maximize the benefits of AI. Public awareness and acceptance of AI can drive positive participation in the industry by advocating for informed policymaking that safeguards societal values.

Upskills the workforce:

Many industries are integrating AI into their daily operations to automate tasks and improve productivity. Human resource professionals use AI to help with recruiting and hiring, and software companies use AI to help them write computer code. Individuals who can effectively interface with AI are better positioned to thrive in the modern job market. AI literacy helps ensure the digital divide doesn’t expand.

Enhances digital, cyber, media, and political literacy skills:

As AI tools become increasingly pervasive on our devices and online, AI literacy equips users with the skills needed to navigate our evolving digital ecosystem safely and effectively. Staying informed about AI technology enables people to identify and report AI misuse, such as online fraud, disinformation, or political deepfakes.

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Investing in AI Literacy:

Fostering AI literacy across the United States will involve various sectors and stakeholders. Here’s how different communities can contribute:

Academic programs can incorporate AI skills and STEM scholarships across K-12 and higher education curricula.

Professional development programs can provide affordable and accessible educational courses, certifications, or seminars on AI for individuals of all levels.

Tech industry developers can host workshops, interactive tools, or transparent resources to foster a better understanding of their AI-driven products.

Cross-sector collaboration like BPC’s AI 101 program can foster unique partnerships among academia, government, and the tech industry, which can cultivate shared expertise.

Government can facilitate and fund robust education and training strategies to prepare students, families, and workers for the new economy.

Examples of AI literacy resources/campaigns include:

  • MIT’s RAISE initiative has developed a wide range of K-12 research and outreach programs on AI.
  • Microsoft Learn provides multiple courses, learning paths, and modules on AI from beginner to advanced levels.
  • The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Literacy Act is a bipartisan bill that proposes grants to increase AI literacy in public schools, community colleges, universities, and community institutions like nonprofits and libraries.


Diminishing fears around AI technology starts with strengthening AI literacy. AI literacy enables people across the country to think critically about the adoption and accountability of AI systems. Public awareness and understanding of artificial intelligence are vital aspects of national competitiveness, workforce preparedness, and online safety.

By promoting robust AI education for people of all ages, education levels, and occupations, the United States can continue to be a leader in safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence use and innovation.

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