Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined as: the development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and rational decision-making. The last year has seen evolution in the functionality of this new technology; we saw all manner of unprecedented achievements, from a robot being granted citizenship, to IBM’s Project Debater, a robot with the power to debate rational arguments.
Bearing in mind this rapid pace of development, the rising levels of attention that AI has been garnering from policy makers, politicians and the general public is unsurprising. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee has launched an inquiry into AI and its impact on the UK workforce and AI has formed a cornerstone of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
We wanted to understand the attitudes of workers across the UK on Artificial Intelligence in the workplace. Essentially, to change the way people work. The results suggested, a wave of concern running across elements of the workforce around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its likely impacts on jobs.
Percentage of workers worried that AI will disrupt their role in the next two years:
Percentage of workers confident that their employer would retrain them if AI were to replace their role:
Percentage of workers who feel their manager lacks the skills required to integrate AI into their team, by gender:
Workers that feel that their organisation communicates well when new technology is introduced:
Workers confident in the likelihood of their employer retraining them if AI should replace their role, by region:
Percentage of workers who lack faith in their manager having the skill to integrate new AI, by region
Not only did our research seek to identify whether gender might be a factor in how employees feel about AI, we also wanted to ascertain any regional variances in the perceptions of AI and the level of concern over job disruption, existing skill sets and quality of communication.
Beyond gaining insight into how geography and gender might inform worker sentiment around AI, the survey results also suggested that other, more granular factors might have just as much of an impact. For example, age was also shown to be a driver of opinion, with just 16% of 18-24 year olds feeling worried that AI will disrupt their role, a figure more than half of that for 35-44 year olds. Furthermore, whether an employee is working full or part time also influences their level of concern, where half as many part- time workers are worried about their role being disrupted as their full- time counterparts.
Workers who feel that their job will be replaced by AI, by job seniority:
Workers who believe that their organisation communicates well when new AI is introduced:
Percentage of workers worried that AI will disrupt their role:
Percentage of workers confident that their employer would retrain them if AI replaced their role:
Highest and lowest level of employee concern over AI disrupting roles, by sector:
AI is coming and it has the potential to benefit every workplace. Think about how you can make the best of existing technology and lay the foundations for even more efficient AI.
Workers are worried that automation might make them redundant. Talking openly about AI and how you intend to re-train staff will significantly reduce this anxiety.
Part of making the most of the opportunity presented by AI is taking the time to think about the areas where it would be most beneficial to your organisation. Thinking in this way will also allow you to plan how to up-skill existing workers and maximise the efficiency and productivity gains.