Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: AI and the Future of Business

Research: 34 percent afraid of artificial intelligence

What does artificial intelligence mean to you? Is it the downfall of our world as we know it? Or a boon to business and society? Find out more in Tech Pro Research's survey on the subject.

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Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey brought AI to the forefront. Image: Assist

Anyone who watched Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, or any of the Terminator movies, are already familiar with the popular perception of artificial intelligence, also known as AI.

It's been the subject of numerous sci-fi movies and books throughout the decades. It elicits fear and fascination because of the intelligent potential exhibited by machines and computer software. The idea of machines thinking on their own is a bit scary when the mind making the decisions has no concept of good versus evil.

But there's more to AI than just sci-fi: it's also a field of academic study that targets computers and computer software capable of intelligent behavior. It has played a genuine and beneficial role in technology, ever since IBM's Deep Blue computer, the precursor to the Watson cognitive framework, defeated chess wizard Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Many people use AI in daily interactions with Siri, for those who have Apple phones, and in phone systems that route calls. It's the brains behind Amazon's voice command device, Echo. It's also used for aviation, and in financial organizations, and in many other industries.

Tech Pro Research conducted a survey in July to find out how AI will impact the future of IT. The 534 respondents shared their opinions and observations. The resulting report, Artificial Intelligence and IT: The Good, The Bad and the Scary, found some surprising responses.

Download the full report, Artificial Intelligence and IT: The Good, The Bad and the Scary.

Fear behind AI

The topic is scary to some, and 34 percent admitted that they are afraid of the concept of AI. Respondents in healthcare were more likely to fear the concept of AI (44%) compared to the overall average of 34 percent. Business services/consulting, education and IT/technology also ranked higher than the average. It's clear that AI is seen as a threat for employees whose careers are based in these fields.

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Tech Pro Research's survey showed 34% are afraid of AI. Image: Tech Pro Research

Is AI good for business and society?

Respondents were also asked whether they thought that AI would be good for their business. A clear majority of 63 percent felt that it would be beneficial.

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63% say AI will be good for business. Image: Tech Pro Research

The survey also asked whether AI would be good for society. The number of positive responses dropped slightly, to 59 percent, but there was still a significant majority who felt AI would be beneficial.

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59% of survey respondents thought AI would be good for society. Image: Tech Pro Research

Future plans for AI

There were 24 percent currently using AI in their business, or planning to use it in the next year, with another 26 percent evaluating it for potential use.

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17% are actively using AI right now in their business. Image: Tech Pro Research

The report also focused on many other aspects of AI, including how it's being used right now, the type of systems it's being used on, the top industries for AI, and when everyone predicts it will become mainstream.

Watch TechRepublic Senior Editor Teena Hammond discuss the highlights of the report in this video.

Read the full report, Artificial Intelligence and IT: The Good, The Bad and the Scary, on Tech Pro Research.


Tech Pro Research is the premium content sister site to ZDNet and TechRepublic.

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