The interplay between technology and work has always been a hot topic.
While technology has typically created more jobs than it has destroyed on a historical basis, this context rarely stops people from believing that things are “different” this time around.
In this case, it’s the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) that is being hotly debated by the media and expert commentators. Although there is no doubt that AI will be a transformative force in business, the recent attention on the subject has also led to many common misconceptions about the technology and its anticipated effects.
Disproving Common Myths About AI
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur and it helps paint a clearer picture about the nature of AI, while attempting to debunk various myths about AI in the workplace.
AI is going to be a seismic shift in business – and it’s expected to create a $15.7 trillion economic impact globally by 2030.
But understandably, monumental shifts like this tend to make people nervous, resulting in many unanswered questions and misconceptions about the technology and what it will do in the workplace.
Here are the eight debunked myths about AI:
1. Automation will completely displace employees
Truth: 70% of employers see AI in supporting humans in completing business processes. Meanwhile, only 11% of employers believe that automation will take over the work found in jobs and business processes to a “great extent”.
2. Companies are primarily interested in cutting costs with AI
Truth: 84% of employers see AI as obtaining or sustaining a competitive advantage, and 75% see AI as a way to enter into new business areas. 63% see pressure to reduce costs as a reason to use AI.
3. AI, machine learning, and deep learning are the same thing
Truth: AI is a broader term, while machine learning is a subset of AI that enables “intelligence” by using training algorithms and data. Deep learning is an even narrower subset of machine learning inspired by the interconnected neurons of the brain.
4. Automation will eradicate more jobs than it creates
Truth: At least according to one recent study by Gartner, there will be 1.8 million jobs lost to AI by 2020 and 2.3 million jobs created. How this shakes out in the longer term is much more debatable.
5. Robots and AI are the same thing
Truth: Even though there is a tendency to link AI and robots, most AI actually works in the background and is unseen (think Amazon product recommendations). Robots, meanwhile, can be “dumb” and just automate simple physical processes.
6. AI won’t affect my industry
Truth: AI is expected to have a significant impact on almost every industry in the next five years.
7. Companies implementing AI don’t care about workers
Truth: 65% of companies pursuing AI are also investing in the reskilling of current employees.
8. High productivity equals higher profits and less employment
Truth: AI and automation will increase productivity, but this could also translate to lower prices, higher wages, higher demand, and employment growth.
Still worried about AI’s impact on your career?
Here’s a list of 10 skills that will help you survive the rise of the robots in the workplace.
Charted: Changing Sentiments Towards AI in the Workplace
Opinions about using AI in the workplace have undergone a transformation from 2018, and so have the AI tools themselves.
Is generative AI the catalyst for the next industrial revolution? Or is it a flash in the pan? Is the entire workforce destined to become AI makers and managers?
It’s possible that one, all, or none of these options could be correct. But despite how fast large language models (LLMs) and tools have grown the popularity of artificial intelligence, one thing that is clear is that there are no quick or easy answers.
Amidst all this uncertainty, opinions on how we use AI in the workplace have evolved. Recent survey data from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reveals how the labor force feels about AI in the workplace today, compared to how they felt five years ago.
The consultancy surveyed 13,000 people (C-suite leaders, managers, and frontline employees) in 18 different countries for the results, and divided their top two responses into five categories: Curiosity, Optimism, Concern, Confidence, and Indifference.
More Optimism, Less Caution Around AI
General curiosity about AI remains almost unchanged (at 60%) since 2018.
Meanwhile, despite how rapidly AI has advanced in the last five years, or perhaps because of it, more than 50% of workers surveyed are optimistic about AI’s impact on work, a 17 percentage point (p.p.) increase from 2018.
And though 30% remain concerned about AI, this fell 10 p.p. over the same time period.
|Sentiment towards AI||2018||2023|
Clearly, respondents perceive AI in the workplace far more positively now than they did in 2018. But that’s not all. The respondents’ confidence in how AI can influence their work has also increased (+5 p.p.) and indifference towards it has shrunk significantly (-7 p.p.).
Given the explosive growth in generative AI since the end of 2022—ChatGPT gets 1.8 billion visitors a month—it’s not surprising that workers are far more aware of AI compared to just five years ago.
Optimistic Leaders, Cautious Employees
As with any survey data, the devil is in the details. BCG notes that the sentiments between rungs on the company ladder differ sharply around AI.
While two-thirds of polled leaders are optimistic about AI in 2023, less than half of polled frontline employees shared the same sentiment. Frontline employees were also the biggest group that responded with concern (nearly 40%).
Importantly, frontline employees are almost as optimistic as they are concerned about AI in the workplace.
Managers were closer to leaders in their AI optimism, though some experts believe their jobs might actually be the most at risk of being replaced all together.
More Use, More Optimism Around AI
With ChatGPT reaching 100 million active users just two months after launching, it’s clear that more and more people are experimenting with generative AI.
In BCG’s poll, regular AI users—categorized as people who use it at least once a week for work—are nearly three times more optimistic than concerned about AI’s impact on their work in 2023.
|AI Use Level||Optimism||Concern|
Even rare users are two times more optimistic than cautious, with the non-user category registering the most concern.
Which brings us to who these regular users are.
A staggering 80% of the leaders polled say they’re already regular users of AI, compared to 46% managers and 20% frontline employees.
While eyebrow-raising, these figures are not surprising.
People in leadership positions tend to have a mandate to stay ahead of the curve on current business trends, and along with their less strictly defined roles, have more freedom to try, use, and adopt AI tools while they formulate policies for their workplace.
|Position||Regular User||Rare User||Nonuser|
At the same time, AI tools may not be green-lit en masse in many workplaces yet, preventing frontline employees from giving them a go.
So Is AI Coming For Jobs or Not?
Regardless of how definitively one can make a claim about artificial intelligence taking away people’s jobs, the survey respondents were unanimous that AI in the workplace will have some kind of an impact on their employment.
Slightly more than one-third felt that their job is in jeopardy as of 2023, while an overwhelming 86% polled said they needed training to adapt to how AI will transform their work.
With how fast the field is currently transforming, upskilling could be the safest path to follow as the AI revolution unfolds.
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