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Use of AI: how companies and customers can find common ground

A quizzical robot that symbolizes the use of AI
Image: Alexandr Pobeda/Adobe Stock

Artificial intelligence is all around us

The use of artificial intelligence is now an integral part of our lives. That’s a fact. AI improves industrial production processes and has also found its way into many aspects of our daily routine, including autonomous driving and AI-supported systems in the medical and financial sectors. The technology has also taken over everyday communication and marketing – whether voice search, chatbots, or ads placed via AI-controlled platforms.

What your customers think

AI is everywhere and, what’s more, it’s now hard to imagine many industries without it. After all, the opportunities and efficiency gains presented by the technology are simply too great. For companies, AI is a success factor that is influencing the economy, and indeed the whole of society, and will significantly shape them in the future. Companies can benefit enormously from AI, but when it comes to what customers think about artificial intelligence, it’s an entirely different story. Opinions on the use of AI are split – from enthusiasm and openness to skepticism and even rejection.

How do people feel about AI?

The “International Technology Report 2021: Automation & AI” published by the YouGov market research company delivers eye-opening figures on how customers feel about the use of AI. The global study explored people’s opinions and emotions toward AI technology and revealed that people in eastern countries, such as China, India, and Indonesia, generally have a much more positive and optimistic attitude toward AI. On the other hand, the West – including the US, Europe, and Australia – skews more toward skepticism: on average, artificial intelligence is a topic with mainly negative connotations for 54% of those surveyed from western countries.

Zeroing in on some of the countries involved in the YouGov study, the percentage of respondents who feel “acceptance” toward AI is as follows:

21% in Australia

19% in Germany

19% in the UK

14% in the US

7% in France

 

 

In contrast, “skepticism” is felt by:

40 %
in Germany
39 %
in the UK
39 %
in the US
37 %
in France

Age clearly does not influence people’s attitude toward artificial intelligence. The YouGov study did not observe any significant differences between age groups, whether in terms of rejection or acceptance of AI. That shows that the use of AI is not a generational problem, but rather a macrosocial issue.

Why are people skeptical of the use of AI?

More than a third of respondents in western countries said they are skeptical of artificial intelligence. Where do the concerns stem from? The study names one overriding factor: the fear of losing control. Globally, nearly half of the study’s participants on average worry about artificial intelligence getting out of hand or falling into the wrong hands. Almost a quarter think that AI will reach a point beyond human control.

 

But what would happen then? Blockbuster movies like Terminator and Moonfall provide a glimpse of possible scenarios. Whether they’re realistic is another matter.

Either way, maybe people are so wary of artificial intelligence because of how it is presented in the media.

Some people certainly see the technology’s potential, with a global average of 28% of the survey’s participants thinking that AI will help humans in their daily tasks. 21% believe that artificial intelligence will improve our lives in ways we cannot imagine today.

How justified is the skepticism?

Many people are skeptical of AI technology, while others see huge opportunities. One thing’s for sure: artificial intelligence clearly has an image problem. And it’s actually creating an education gap: according to the report, sentiments toward AI correlate with the level of knowledge on the topic. Respondents who said that they were well informed on AI had a predominantly positive sentiment, while only a fraction of study participants who had little knowledge had a positive attitude toward AI.

What to keep in mind when using AI

The report teaches companies an important lesson. If they want to implement AI in their business, they need to be transparent, since their customers might have reservations about it. However, this is due to a lack of knowledge in many cases, meaning that companies have to communicate as openly as possible with regard to AI. So, talk about how you use artificial intelligence. Explain what benefits the technology offers you and your customers. That will establish trust in the use of AI – and ultimately trust in your business.

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