Aussies attitudes to AI revealed in study

- July 31, 2019 2 MIN READ

New research by MYOB has found Australians have little knowledge of the reach of AI in their everyday lives.

Less than a third (30 per cent) of those surveyed are aware that they use AI, while only a quarter understand that Netflix recommendations are driven by artificial intelligence and half (55 per cent) realise virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa use AI.

The research, which explored the knowledge and views on artificial intelligence of 1000 Australians, found the knowledge of the use and reach of AI varied.  While 70 per cent of respondents supported the development of AI, nine in ten showed a distrust of artificial intelligence, suggesting while its powers can be harnessed they need to be managed to safeguard consumers.

MYOB CEO, Tim Reed said the data reflected AI’s seamless integration in modern society, and that it was up to its producers to ensure Australians continue to support the involvement of AI in their lives.

“The impact of AI is already great – and greater than we would believe, according to this data. But low awareness does not necessarily mean that Australians would support AI any less if they knew how it is shaping our society now,” he said.

“It’s the job of business to do the right thing by Australians in developing AI applications with meaningful, trustworthy intent in mind. Eighty-one per cent of those researched told us they expect technology companies to work closely with government and carefully manage AI’s development, which is exactly what we mean to do at MYOB.”

Those surveyed also believed Australia was lagging behind other nations in the development of AI, with 13 per cent suggesting Australia ranked below the global average. Just one-third of respondents believed Australia to be on-par in the R&D stakes.

“Having the ability to research and develop these meaningful AI applications starts with funding and time. When there is uncertainty around the R&D tax incentive, it continues to cause concern about our ability to be globally competitive, which is reflected in these figures. Businesses must have the bandwidth to innovate if we are to change this view,” said Reed.

“We have a responsibility to ensure AI has its place in the right parts of people’s lives, and it’s encouraging to see Australia is open to that. Society is changing and technology is a key driver. So long as we embrace it for the positive influence it has and give Australia the fuel it needs to fan the flames, we will all remain on the right track,” concluded Reed.

Other key findings from the research included:

  • When asked whether automation and AI will create more jobs than it will eliminate today, nearly a third (31 per cent) agreed. This result changes with age. Respondents aged 15-24 and 25-34 were most likely to agree (43 per cent)
  • While most were comfortable with the development of AI, just half (53 per cent) support the development of high-level machine intelligence – suggesting there is a comfort zone for Australians in the level of sentience machines can reach
  • When asked what’s an acceptable role for AI in society, respondents were most likely to deem security roles suitable, with 75 per cent saying automated detection of credit card fraud was acceptable and 68 per cent saying prevention of AI cyber-attacks would be a good application for AI



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