Silicon Slopes—InsideSales.com, the world’s leading AI-powered predictive sales acceleration platform, announced Monday the publication of its State of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Report. With insights derived from a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, the study breaks down consumers’ use of AI in daily life and in the workplace and captures their perceptions of and predictions for the technology. It reveals that, paradoxically, most consumers are currently unaware of the significant role AI plays in their lives today, while seeing a bright future for the technology and its capacity to transform the way they work and live.
“2017 is the year AI truly goes mainstream. Over the past year, we’ve seen tech giants place major bets on AI and its applications,” said Dave Elkington, CEO and founder of InsideSales.com. “But what this data shows us is that consumers are still confronting the basics of AI, assessing its merits in their home and work lives. This study gives us a baseline to understand how they are interacting with AI, whether consciously or passively, and gives a glimpse into which bets will ultimately pay off in the future.”
Consumers and AI: It’s Only the Beginning
When it comes to AI adoption, the majority of survey respondents are just getting their feet wet. In both their personal and work lives, people are split in their AI use. Out of the office, more than half (55 percent) report that they have used AI before. Of the total respondents, about 10 percent can be considered early adopters, using AI on a regular basis.
The data suggests that regular use of AI may correlate with income level. In the survey, 45 percent of consumers say they have never used AI, however, that number rises dramatically when looking at higher income brackets ($175,000 to $199,999). In that segment, 78 percent of consumers say they have never used AI at all. When it comes to the percentage of consumers using AI all the time, more than one quarter make below $25,000 (27 percent). This was the largest percentage in all income brackets, with this demographic consistently showcasing a familiarity with AI.
Consumers today mostly interact with AI through services geared towards convenience or entertainment, such as navigation apps (60 percent), video streaming (55 percent) and music streaming (47 percent). These technologies are familiar to consumers, having been in use for a decade or more. It’s the new technology utilizing AI that has yet to hit critical mass. Only five percent of consumers surveyed reported finding AI-enhanced assistants like Amazon Alexa useful. Two other areas where AI hasn’t yet gained significant traction are ridesharing services and bots in the workplace, with only 15 percent and one percent of respondents respectively reporting regular use in their day-to-day lives.
It Comes Down to Trust: Trepidation Around AI
Even as apps and services that rely on AI continue to become more widespread, the results of the survey indicate that consumers still report trepidation around AI. In fact, when presented with a list of popular AI services, 42 percent of respondents could not cite one example of AI that they trust. However, that number increased to almost half of consumers in the middle Atlantic region (NY, PA, NJ), 49 percent were unable to select an example of AI they trusted. Interestingly, that sentiment is not shared throughout the East Coast. A short drive up north, shows that 63 percent of consumers in New England could cite AI products that they trusted, demonstrating trust levels on par with West Coast respondents (62 percent).
Respondents reported being especially wary of AI working in industries that have historically required a human touch. Only nine percent of respondents trust AI with their financials, and only four percent trust AI in the HR hiring process. That said, here is where consumers’ trust in AI currently lies:
- 36 percent trust recommendations for personal entertainment
- 30 percent trust products/goods made by automated industrial machines
- 19 percent trust automated sales processes
- 16 percent trust medical diagnostics
Consumers also know the companies they trust to lead the AI transformation and deliver AI technology that really works. When asked to select their top three choices, consumers ranked Google as No. 1 with 54 percent, Apple at No. 2 with 46 percent, and Microsoft (with 40.05 percent) very narrowly edging out Amazon (with 39.6 percent) for the No. 3 spot.
Our AI Future: Peering into the Crystal Ball
Despite their hesitations, consumers agree that AI will have a significant impact on the future. Among those surveyed:
- 49 percent of consumers believe AI will lead to medical advancements
- 47 percent of consumers believe AI will take over dangerous jobs
- 41 percent of consumers believe AI will automate mundane tasks in their personal life
- 40 percent of consumers believe AI will lead to advancements in transportation/travel
- 35 percent of consumers believe AI will automate mundane tasks in their work life
The very industries in which consumers trust AI the least are those that they think will be most impacted by the technology. Today, AI may be all about entertainment and GPS navigation, but in the future, people see it playing a significant role in improving healthcare, reducing the need for people to do dangerous jobs, and transforming transportation and travel.
Ready for a Robot Boss? AI and the Future of Work
The State of AI Report reveals that today, 63 percent of respondents have no strong opinion about the use of AI in the workplace, and an additional 64 percent claim they have never used AI at work. This group is the greenfield target audience for AI to win over. Having already accepted AI’s future benefits, nearly 70 percent believe that AI will someday streamline their day-to-day operations at work.
Consumers are locking in on the ways AI will change the world of business. As of now, consumers believe a company’s engineering department will benefit the most from AI, with others following closely behind:
- 44 percent of consumers believe that AI will benefit engineering
- 41 percent of consumers believe that AI will benefit customer service
- 36 percent of consumers believe AI will benefit marketing
- 32 percent of consumers believe AI will benefit finance
- 32 percent of consumers believe AI will benefit sales
Despite fairly positive perceptions of the impact of AI on their lives, more than a third of consumers (35 percent) surveyed reported concerns about job security as AI adoption increases. The number rises to 41 percent and 40 percent with Millennials and Generation Z (respondents ages 18-37).
The data shows a correlation between perception of AI and the outlook on jobs – interestingly, the more positive the view on AI in the workplace, the more negative impact respondents feel that AI will have on job opportunities available to them. For companies pushing AI adoption in the office, it may become a point of concern that youngest members of the workforce – technologically savvy and with the longest careers ahead – are the most worried about job security from AI:
- 32 percent of Generation Z has a positive view of AI in the workplace; 40 percent believe AI will decrease the number of jobs available
- 34 percent of Millennials have a positive view of AI in the workplace; 41 percent believe AI will decrease the number of jobs available
- 24 percent of Generation X have a positive view of AI in the workplace; 37 percent believe AI will decrease the number of jobs available
- 21 percent of Baby Boomers have a positive view of AI in the workplace; 26 percent believe AI will decrease the number of jobs available
Perhaps because Millennials and Generation Z constitute the youngest and newest members of the workforce, these views persist when income is taken into account. Consumers in the three lowest income brackets showed the greatest amount of fear that AI would decrease job opportunities while the top three income brackets showed the least amount of fear:
- Over 42 percent of consumers making below $25,000 a year believe AI will decrease the number of job opportunities
- Less than 26 percent of consumers making over $175,000 a year believe that AI will decrease the number of job opportunities.
Fears aside, Generation Z and Millennials still remain the most prolific users of AI. A third of Generation Z and a quarter of Millennials use AI frequently. Twenty-five percent of Generation Z actually believes that they will one day have a “robot boss”, leading the way for Generation Z to be our AI accelerants.
In work and in their daily lives, consumers are at the cusp of AI readiness. They have begun to envision the next 10 years of life with AI and are developing concrete opinions on its impact. As companies seek to successfully engage consumers in this new age of artificial intelligence, it will be central to bring consumers up the AI learning curve, carefully balancing AI education and promotion to forge trust.