Government and industry are rushing to develop, deploy and adopt AI, with talk of robots taking over the world firmly regarded as tongue-in-cheek and the stuff of Hollywood movies.
However, a new study has revealed that some robot fears are very much a reality among consumers, with these fears causing consumers to shy away from using AI-based technology.
The Pegasystems survey of 6,000 customers across six countries found that close to three quarters (68%) of Brits express some sort of fear about AI, with almost one quarter (23%) worried about robots taking over the world.
Further findings revealed the potential impact of these deep-rooted fears on businesses, with less than one in three (28%) of British consumers comfortable with businesses using AI to engage with them. By comparison, the French (40%), Australians (40%) and Americans (39%) are much more comfortable.
Robots and AI were also found to confuse consumers, with the survey exposing a basic misunderstanding of AI. A majority (68%) confidently claimed that they understand AI, but far fewer could correctly define what it is or what it can do. For example, relatively few knew that AI has the basic ability to interpret or understand speech (37%) or mimic humans (35%), while only half could identify some of the most common AI capabilities, like solving problems (50%) and learning (57%).
Consumers are one very important factor in the future success of AI and with businesses rushing to invest in AI and smart technology, the end-user must be factored in – especially as we are at such an early stage of the technology. The data suggests that consumers are significantly more comfortable with AI if they think they have previously been exposed to it.
Less than a quarter (23%) of UK consumers who report no AI experience feel at ease with businesses using AI to engage with them. But for UK AI consumer veterans, this number jumps to 56% – a full 33 points higher.
“Though AI has been around for more than 30 years, it has now evolved to the point that businesses can engage with each individual consumer on a real-time, one-to-one basis,” said Don Schuerman, vice president, product marketing and CTO, Pegasystems.
“But our study suggests the recent hype is causing some confusion and fear among consumers, who may not really understand how it’s already being used and helping them every day. Businesses need to focus on using AI to develop applications that provide real value for customers to improve their experiences rather than overhyping the technology itself.”