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article imageReport: Consumers sceptical of AI, fearful of privacy risks

By James Walker     Dec 7, 2017 in Technology
Corporate investments in AI aren't helping to shift public opinion on the technology. According to a new study published this week, 71 percent of consumers would reject AI-based apps if they don't do enough to preserve privacy and avoid bias.
Genpact surveyed over 5,000 people from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to collect the data for its report. It found a "disconnect" between corporate and consumer views of AI. The mounting enterprise interest in AI isn't translating to increased acceptance by customers. The majority of users are concerned about the technology's long-term implications.
63 percent of respondents said they're worried AI will make decisions that silently impact their lives. 58 percent said they are not comfortable with service providers using AI to personalise experiences, even when the activity is designed to increase efficiency or save time. Just 12 percent of people surveyed said they'd prefer to be served by a chatbot instead of a human, despite the hypothetical chatbot service being both faster and more accurate.
The findings will be of concern to enterprises already investing in new AI-powered services. AI advocates are promoting the technology as a way to increase customer engagement, offer new experiences and improve a brand's image. Genpact's report suggests consumers are rejecting AI on all three principles, with privacy and lack of control the top concerns.
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In a previous Genpact study, 88 percent of senior executives leading in AI said the technology will create better customer experiences before the end of the decade. The new research suggests uptake might be low if companies don't do more to reassure customers and explain the benefits of AI. The technology is developing so rapidly that service providers might need to slow down the pace and focus on gradually introducing AI to customers.
"AI is a game-changer to improve the customer experience, yet real challenges remain regarding trust and privacy," said Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer at Genpact. "To encourage adoption, the key is to have visibility into AI decisions, and be able to track and explain the logic behind them. Companies need to break through the 'black box' to drive better insights for their business and give consumers the assurance they need."
The report does uncover some bright spots for AI providers, with Genpact noting that younger generations are more likely to engage with AI. They're twice as likely as older people to say AI is making their lives better. This is either because they have increased awareness of the tech's scope or because they personally interact with AI more regularly. Overall perception of AI's usefulness is still low though, with two in five respondents saying it's made "no difference" to their lives.
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