Do consumers and companies fully understand AI?

A new report found that AI is up and coming, and for it to realize its full potential, the world needs to be better educated.
20 July 2018

As AI becomes more powerful, companies must work harder to understand and realize its potential. Source: Shutterstock

We have all heard of what artificial intelligence (AI) might do for businesses in the region, but when we think of it, we think of the end-state that’s been put in our minds by science fiction movies: AI controls the world and everything in it.

However, how many companies today really use AI or are developing systems that truly automate jobs and provide predictive insights? Not too many.

According to a new report by FleishmanHillard, companies still don’t know much about the technology.

The public, too, is less certain about whether AI is currently impacting our working lives. While 49 percent of those surveyed agree that AI and automation will change the way we work, only 31 percent feel that they had already seen the benefits, while 40 percent had not seen a difference.

FleishmanHillard New York’s Senior Vice President Ryan Brack told TechHQ:

“The experts we spoke to unanimously agree that there is hype, confusion, and apprehension when it comes to AI, but that there is a compelling and positive story to be told about the technology’s potential. The difficulty comes with shifting public perception towards a positive outlook on AI.

“Our research shows that with more education, comes more understanding and a reduction in fear. So while 51 percent of Americans believe the positive aspects outweigh the risks, the tech industry in the US still has work to do if it is to convince the public of the benefits of AI today.”

“UK consumers are all round more cynical than their US counterparts when it comes to AI. Just 39 percent believe the positive aspects outweigh the risks, compared to 51 percent of Americans,”  FleishmanHillard London Managing Director & Innovation Lead Brandy Fleming told TechHQ.

But UK consumers also admit to being less educated on the topic, with just 33 percent saying they have a very good/good understanding of what AI is and does, compared to their US counterparts at 44 percent.

Clearly, where understanding falls down, the nightmarish scenarios often depicted in social and traditional media rise up to fill the gap.

“If we’re to build public trust in AI, businesses, the government and academia need to work together to educate the mainstream audience that AI can provide benefits for businesses and individuals today,” added Fleming.

The report found that there’s much positivity around AI’s potential with nearly half (45 percent) of respondents either agreeing, or strongly agreeing, that the positive aspects of AI outweigh the negatives.

However, although AI is just starting to build momentum, more than half of global consumers (56 percent) already say that it needs more regulation and restrictions.

About 53 percent of respondents say they believe that education about the role of AI in society needs to improve, while 49 percent of respondents agree that AI is an exciting and exhilarating topic and that automation will change our lives and jobs for the better.

“While AI will certainly change the labor landscape, it will not necessarily be all in one direction. Just like many other major advances in technology, AI will create new roles in society as well as change existing ones,” concluded Joseph Reger, CTO EMEIA, Fujitsu.

The answer is simple: While we have the talent to develop AI, end users need more help imagining how it can transform existing business practices and processes.