OpenText research reveals UK consumers’ true feelings on AI technology
New research from the leaders in enterprise information management, OpenText, today reveals the extent to which UK consumers think robot and artificial intelligence AI technology will impact aspects of their everyday lives – from work to healthcare – in the future.
 
Robo-colleagues here to stay
 
The survey of 2,000 UK respondents revealed growing optimism around robots in the workplace. Over one third (35%) of UK citizens would feel comfortable working alongside a robot while almost a quarter (23%) would actively encourage their employer to hire robot colleagues if it would mean a reduction in their day-to-day admin tasks.
 
The research also revealed fewer concerns about robots taking over jobs completely. While the 2017 survey revealed that a quarter of UK consumers (25%) believed their job could be replaced by a robot in the next 10 years, this dropped to one in five (21%) in this latest survey. Furthermore, almost two thirds (60%) of respondents did not think a robot would ever take over their jobs, suggesting a greater inclination to work alongside – and not be replaced by – robot technology.
 
AI technology in the NHS
 
Faced with a growing population and tight budget, the UK’s National Health Service has already started looking to AI to improve patient service and cut costs. With smartphones due to become the primary method of accessing health services, the NHS is already investing in AI-powered apps and implementing AI technology which will allow NHS 111 enquiries to be handled by robots within two years.
 
Yet this latest research reveals widespread uncertainty amongst the UK population when it comes to trusting their health to AI:
 
·         A more accurate diagnosis was identified as the biggest benefit of introducing AI into healthcare, yet only a quarter (26%) of UK consumers believe robots would reach the correct diagnosis
·         Speed and quick access were also highlighted as major benefits – 21% believe AI technology can offer a quick diagnosis and the same proportion (21%) would appreciate not having to take time off work to visit a doctor
As AI is implemented across the healthcare sector, British consumers will need to put their trust in this technology. Yet this research revealed that two fifths (41%) do not know if they would trust the medical diagnosis given by AI and a further 26% confirmed that they did not trust the technology. Just 11% said they would trust the diagnosis of AI more, or just as much, as a doctor’s diagnosis.
 
Interacting with AI
 
Despite the increasingly ubiquitous presence of AI in consumers’ lives – from healthcare apps to AI-powered travel predictions on Google Maps – 45% of respondents were not aware of having interacted with AI in the past twelve months. Yet, in the age of extreme connectivity with individuals constantly online and connected through multiple smart devices, the reality is most people interact with AI on a daily basis.
 
Those surveyed showed a wide array of feelings around the growth of AI technology. Though nearly one in five (18%) described themselves as nervous, 17% are excited about the technology – mirroring increased optimism around the benefits of the technology.
 
Commenting on the findings outlined above, Mark Bridger, VP of OpenText UK said:
 
“AI technology is here to stay. Businesses are turning to digital transformation, healthcare organisations are embracing medical technology innovations and, as a result, AI is filtering into every aspect of our lives. It’s positive to see that more of us are looking at the benefits this will bring to the workplace and our wider lives – enabling greater efficiency while also taking away some of the strain of day-to-day tasks.
 
“While sci-fi films can distort the impact of AI technology, it’s time to stop viewing AI as an existential threat to our livelihoods and our health. AI will transform the workplace as menial tasks, and some non-routine jobs, are digitalised through robotics and process automation but it cannot replace people. The true value of AI will be found in it working alongside humans to ease the pressure at work and across the healthcare system as well as making our lives easier.”