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Survey Reveals Significant Disparity in Consumer Sentiment Towards Artificial Intelligence

Blumberg Capital, a leading early-stage venture capital firm, released a new survey, “Artificial Intelligence in 2019: Getting past the adoption tipping point”, detailing consumer comfort level, knowledge of and sentiment towards artificial intelligence (AI). The findings demonstrate that we’re at a critical tipping point when it comes to consumer understanding and attitudes towards AI, as half of consumers feel optimistic while the other half feel fearful. Results show that businesses need to prioritize educating the general population about the positives and negatives of the technology to achieve broader understanding and adoption.

The growing scale and speed of AI adoption across the business landscape is remarkable. Recent industry figures show that the global AI market will be worth approximately $89.8 billion by 2025. However, while there has been heightened attention on and investment in AI by investors and enterprise customers, it’s clear that consumers aren’t as comfortable. Results from Blumberg Capital’s 2019 AI research reveals a substantial disparity in consumer sentiment about AI. However, this gap presents an immediate opportunity for businesses to address consumer concerns, inform them of AI’s potential and educate them on how to avoid pitfalls.

Below are the key findings from the survey and what they mean for businesses: 

  • Half of consumers do not fully grasp the impact of AI: While nearly half of companies have embedded AI into business functions, only five percent of respondents think that the services they use on a daily basis, including banking, online shopping, streaming audio and video services, are powered by AI. Since most consumers (58 percent) get their information on AI from movies, television or social media, it’s no surprise that there is misinformation and a consequent lack of understanding about how they interact with and benefit from the technology every day.
  • Consumers readily embrace AI for convenience, speed and value, yet they are concerned about misuse of their private information: Findings show that consumers are more comfortable with AI when it offers increased convenience. Consumers feel most comfortable and trusting of AI when used for commerce and entertainment. However, when it comes to cybersecurity and healthcare, consumers are far more cautious. Forty-five percent lack confidence that their personal information will stay private, creating hesitation to fully utilize the technology in these areas. Yet, in looking to the future, consumers rank healthcare as the industry to be most greatly impacted through adoption of AI over the next decade.
  • Consumers are wary of how AI will impact their work-life and job security: A major consumer fear about AI is if it will cause people to lose their jobs. Survey findings reinforced this concern, revealing that 49 percent of consumers feel that AI has already replaced positions. Surprisingly, people are so concerned about this, that only 19 percent of consumers want to pass along their drudge work to a machine.

“AI is a powerful technology that operates behind the scenes with the potential to change all of our lives and, unbeknownst to many, it already has,” said David J. Blumberg, founder and managing partner, Blumberg Capital. “This survey shows that while a percentage of consumers are comfortable with AI, many are concerned about how it is and will be used by companies and governments in the future. This adoption tipping point creates a significant opportunity for emerging businesses to build trust with consumers and fill the education gap. While popular culture sensationalizes robots taking over the world, the future potential productivity from AI will bring benefits to ever wider segments of society. Technology companies should be transparent, demonstrate explainability, acknowledge potential bias and show real-world examples of the benefits of AI for individuals, organizations and society.”

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