Latest News 04-12-2023 13:03 11 Views

American businesses love AI. But what do consumers think?

In early November, Bentley University and Gallup released the results of its 2023 Bentley-Gallup Business and Society Report, which among other topics, focuses a portion of its study on surveying Americans on their opinions of how businesses will use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the future.  

When asked 'In general, how much do you trust businesses to use artificial intelligence responsibly?', 38% of survey respondents answered, 'not at all'; 41% responded 'not much'; and 21% answered 'a lot/some.'  

What is particularly telling, is that across education levels, ethnic background, age groups, and political party, the range of those trusting AI a 'lot/some' was only between 17% and 28%.  

When asked 'In your opinion, what type of effect will artificial intelligence have on the total number of jobs in the United States over the next 10 years?', 6% of survey respondents believe AI will increase the number of jobs; 19% responded that there will be no effect on the number of jobs; and 75% answered that they anticipated a decrease in the number of jobs.  

Across education levels, ethnic background, age groups and political party, those believing that AI will decrease the number of jobs ranges from 66% to 80%. 

Moreover, only one in 10 American adults believe AI technologies do greater good than harm, 50% believe AI technologies offer equal amounts of harm and good, while 40% replied that AI technologies do more harm than good.  

By racial category, Black American adults (70%) and Asian Americans adults (67%) responded that AI technologies do more good than harm, or equal amounts of harm and good, compared to 60% of Hispanic adults and 59% of White adults.  

Lastly, when asked, 'In your opinion, how well does artificial intelligence do the following as compared with a person?', the respondents were asked to comment on a list of nine different tasks presently performed by human workers.  

Examples of the percent of respondents believing that AI technologies 'performs better than a human' include 'customize the content I see' (38%), 'recommend products or services to me' (27%), and 'assist students with homework or studying' (26%).  

Examples of the percent of respondents believing that AI technologies 'performs worse than a human' include 'recommend medical advice to me' (62%); 'drive me somewhere in a car' (68%); and 'recommend which employees a company should hire' (69%). 

In 2023, 63% of U.S. adults who responded in the Bentley-Gallup Business and Society Report say that businesses have an 'extremely' or 'somewhat positive' impact on Americans’ lives, which is an eight-point increase from the 2022 Bentley University-Gallop Force for Good Study. 

Yet, how will this 'extremely/somewhat' positive view of American business – by five of eight American adults in 2023 – remain in the 'positive view' category going forward? In the near future, AI technologies are forecasted to be rapidly adopted by the American business community. 

Given that 79% of U.S. adult survey respondents 'do not trust businesses to use artificial intelligence responsibly,' this issue is rapidly emerging as a serious challenge for the image of American business going forward. And this challenge to American business is likely to happen sooner than later.  

Goldman Sachs Research estimates that U.S.-based AI investment could approach $100 billion by 2025. This economy-wide, AI investment, says Goldman Sachs Research, is expected to be concentrated in four key business segments: companies that train and develop AI models, those that supply the infrastructure (for example, data centers) to run AI applications, companies that develop software to run AI-enabled applications, and enterprise end-users that pay for those software and cloud infrastructure services.  

This is where the conundrum occurs. On one side, American consumers who 'do not trust businesses to use artificial intelligence responsibly,' and on the other side, American businesses across industries enthusiastically embracing the latest AI technologies for improving existing products and services, developing new products and services, and using AI technologies to increase efficiencies in their operational processes. 

The American business community needs to thoughtfully manage this transition to adopting AI technologies, or if this transition is mismanaged, face the consequences of increasing antipathy from American employees and consumers. 

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