New research from Pega shows: both confidence and doubt among consumers about using artificial intelligence


Amsterdam - 20 June, 2023 - Consumers trust artificial intelligence (AI) when it is deployed to transform their customer experiences, but are increasingly concerned about the rise of AI's use in other disciplines. This is one of the findings of new research from Pegasystems Inc, presented at the annual PegaWorld iNspire in Las Vegas. Research firm Savanta asked 5,000 consumers around the world about their views on AI, its ongoing evolution and the ways they interact with this technology.

Within areas revolving around customer experience, AI appears to be widely accepted. According to two-thirds (67%) of respondents, AI could improve the customer service of the companies they interact with. More than half (54%) say organisations that already use AI are more likely to offer their customers more benefits, than those that do not yet. 47% say they are already used to customer service based on AI services. Two-thirds (64%) expect most major departments of organisations to run on AI and automation within now and the next 10 years.

Yet there is still distrust of AI among consumers on several counts:
Preference for human contact: Despite indicating that they are fine with AI in customer interaction, 71% of respondents still prefer communicating with a human rather than AI. Some examples: 1) 68% think a real bank employee makes a more objective decision on whether or not to leave a bank loan than an AI solution. 2) 74% are more likely to trust a diagnosis from a human doctor than when an AI solution does; even if the AI solution is more often right but cannot explain its decision. 3) 51% think a self-driving (autonomous) car can make better decisions to avoid an accident than a human driver. Yet 65% think AI should not overrule a human driver in such a situation.
The rise of machines: A strong majority (86%) think AI could evolve itself into immoral behaviour; more than a quarter (27%) think this has already happened. Almost half (48%) say it is plausible that generative AI will eventually become conscious or self-aware. Almost a third (30%) worry that AI will make humans too dependent. This is a slight increase from the 27% from previous research in 2019. Only 16% of respondents are not worried about AI at all.
Reality check: The study shows that general awareness of AI as a tool for everyday use has grown. For instance, more than half of respondents say they realise that the majority of all photos (55%) and videos (55%) they see have been created using this technology. At the same time, concerns are also growing as it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between real and fake and determine what was generated by a human and what by AI. When presented with a long article, almost two-thirds (63%) said they could not tell whether it was written by AI or a human; when photos were shown, this was 59% and for videos 58%. More than half (56%) also experience this with TV reports they have seen.
"It makes sense that there is a certain amount of conflicting feelings now that AI has penetrated the general public thanks to applications like Midjourney and ChatGPT. Let's not forget that many people already see the benefits of this technology; asking Alexa or Siri a question is nothing new to most," said Dr Rob Walker, general manager, 1:1 customer engagement at Pega. "Perhaps this is also why it is inevitable that the more attention there is to this technology, the greater the fear of science fiction-like 'doomsday' scenarios. This is why it is so important for organisations to be transparent about their AI systems and what they deliver. But also conducting ethical bias tests to monitor and control how their AI systems 'behave' at all times.

"Consumers still keep AI at bay when it comes to making big, impactful decisions and want to retain human interaction in their contact with organisations. The best way to embrace technologies like AI is to use them to complement and enhance existing human skills. Organisations that do this effectively will reap the benefits, keep their customers happy and maximise productivity."


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