Attention to artificial Intelligence (AI) has been spreading like wildfire over the past few years. From the business perspective, we’re already seeing heightened investment, fast adoption and measurable impact — but are consumers as comfortable?

Blumberg Capital conducted a series of consumer surveys to gain a deeper understanding of consumers’ comfort level, knowledge of and sentiment towards AI. Findings suggest that we’re at a critical tipping point when it comes to embracing AI – Sure, many tech companies, large businesses and governments are all-aboard the AI train, but how can we realize AI’s full potential if consumers and smaller companies are too skeptical to buy a ticket?

This report explores three key areas:
  • Consumer understanding and knowledge of AI.
  • Comfort level of AI across industries and how these findings can help businesses address consumer concerns.
  • Factors impacting consumer adoption of AI products and services.


Half of consumers feel optimistic and informed about AI, and the other half feel fearful.

Where is the disconnect? 

With most people getting their information on AI from movies and TV or social media (58%), it’s no surprise that there is misinformation and a consequent lack of understanding about how they interact with and benefit from the technology every day.


There is a clear disparity in how consumers embrace AI technology for conveniences like commerce and entertainment versus healthcare and personal finances,
where more personal information is at stake.

What areas will be most impacted by
AI today, tomorrow, and in 10 years?

While people embrace AI technology for conveniences like commerce and entertainment, the real benefits of AI lie in areas of necessity where more sensitive information is required, for instance, to improve healthcare, finances, etc. If consumers understand AI and its benefits, why is consumer adoption still low?


Let’s explore consumer comfort and knowledge of AI in a few different aspects of life:


Retail & Commerce

Findings show that consumers are far more comfortable interacting with AI when it offers increased convenience, speed and value, without requiring too much personal information. Consumer opinions of AI and commerce exemplify this concern.

Consumers feel most comfortable and trusting of AI when used for commerce (33%) and entertainment (26%).

Further, consumers believe they are most likely to encounter AI in commerce (33%), followed by cybersecurity (30%) and entertainment/social media (16%).

AI is already playing a significant role in customer service, from chatbots to prioritization of complaints – yet 43% feel AI will cause a decrease in satisfaction with customer service and an increase in complaints.


 

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is understandably a core concern for consumers in the age of automation. In light of large-scale data breaches of companies and government databases we know (and trusted), consumers are worried about keeping their personal information private and protected.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with AI’s hand in keeping their personal information (credit card information, etc.) safe, yet 48% lack confidence that their private information will stay secure and 52% are somewhat or very confident their private information will remain secure.

On the other hand, 41% responded that with the use of AI, businesses will become more careful about protecting personal data.


Healthcare

There is enormous potential for AI to inform and impact healthcare products and services, yet given the nature of personal information required, consumers are hesitant.

If AI were to help healthcare providers with diagnostic decision making and care management, including selecting which medicine to take or whether to undergo surgery, 51% feel optimistic or safe, while 49% feel fearful and unsafe. Consumers are of a dichotomous mind.

Yet in looking ahead, consumers rank healthcare as the industry to be most greatly impacted through adoption of AI over the next 10 years.


Consumers are also unsure of how AI will impact
their work, lifestyle and job security.

A major consumer fear surrounding AI is whether or not people are at risk of losing their jobs to software and machines.



Hear from tech CEOs about how AI is impacting their industries.


Methodology

Blumberg Capital conducted a series of consumer surveys, each targeting 1,000 adults across the United States, age 18+, between May 20 and June 20, 2019. Figures for age, gender, education, income, employment and region were weighted to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.

References

1.https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/artificial-intelligence/ai-adoption-advances-but-foundational-barriers-remain

2.https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2019-03/2019_Edelman_AI_Survey_Whitepaper.pdf