Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800 Terminator. Colombia Pictures

Over 60% of Britons believe artificial intelligence (AI) and robots will soon have the potential to malfunction and even kill humans. This concern rises to 72% when those who understand and are interested in AI are asked about their fears over future robots.

Participants were asked: "Films and TV series...portray intelligent robots who malfunction and kill humans. How far away do you feel we are from the technology depicted in the films?"

Just 9% believed such a scenario is "very unlikely", while 45% said it was likely and 17% considered a future of robots killing humans as "very likely".

SQS believes this negativity towards robots stems from films and TV programmes like Westworld, I, Robot and Humans, in which intelligent robots turn against their human creators.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who wants to connect human brains with computers to increase their power, has previously said that recklessly developing AI is like "summoning the demon".

Fears over crashing autonomous cars

The survey, conducted by IT company SQS and involving 2,000 Britons aged between 18 and 65, also found that 66% of adults are concerned about future self-driving cars crashing if they were to use them. Only 28% said they felt autonomous cars will be safer drivers than humans.

This stat comes just two weeks after another UK survey found that 56% of adults felt autonomous and connected vehicles would improve their quality of life, and 56% said they felt positive about the new technologies. A third survey found just 8% of Britons had no fears about the safety of driverless vehicles.

Such varied results suggests the public is still very much split on self-drive technologies, which are widely expected to become a part of day-to-day life during the first half of the next decade.

The most recent survey by SQS found the general public are also concerned about a future involving robots designed to help around the home, expanding on the automatic vacuum cleaners we have today. Despite 51% agreeing that a robot helping with household chores would be "cool", 76% have doubts over the safety of such robots; 52% cited hacking as a reason for not investing in automated household technologies.

"Our study showed that 64% of the UK general public are sceptical about the role intelligent robots will play in their day-to-day lives," said Dik Vos, chief executive of SQS. "Alongside the fact that 76% are concerned AI could be easily hacked by someone with malicious intent, our study proves the rapid uptake of technology in the UK has led to extreme perceptions regarding the overall safety of AI products."