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Genesys: Artificial Intelligence survey results

A multi-country Genesys-sponsored survey provided insight into artificial intelligence (AI) ethics policies, potential misuse, liability and regulation

Companies around the world are expecting to apply artificial intelligence (AI) within their companies in the next few years but are lagging in discussions of the ethics around it, the research found. One of the key findings of the study was that globally, nearly 80 per cent of employers aren’t worried about the unethical use of AI within the workplace.

More than half of the employers questioned said that their companies do not currently have a written policy on the ethical use of AI or bots, although 21 per cent expressed a definite concern that their companies could use AI in an unethical manner.

The results found that nearly two-thirds of the employers surveyed expect their companies to be using AI or advanced automation by 2022 to support efficiency in operations, staffing, budgeting or performance, although only 25 per cent are using it now. Yet in spite of the growing trend, 54 per cent of the employers questioned say they are not troubled that AI could be used unethically by their companies as a whole or by individual employees (52 per cent). Employees appear more relaxed than their bosses, with only 17 per cent expressing concern about their companies.

Just over a quarter of employers surveyed are apprehensive their companies could face future liability for an unforeseen use of AI, yet only 23 per cent say there is currently a written corporate policy on the ethical use of AI/bots. Meanwhile an additional 40 per cent of employers without a written AI ethics policy believe their companies should have one, a stance supported by 54 per cent of employees.

Interestingly, more than half of employers believe companies should be required to maintain a minimum percentage of human employees versus AI-powered robots and machinery. The study also revealed that employees are more likely (57 per cent) than employers (52 per cent) to support a requirement by unions or other regulatory bodies.

Guard rails are needed
Millennials (ages 18-38) are the age group most comfortable with technology, yet they also have the strongest opinions that guard rails are needed. Across the countries, the survey questions about AI ethics resonated more with Millennials than with Generation X (ages 39-54) or Baby Boomers (ages 55-73).

Whether it’s anxiety over AI, desire for a corporate AI ethics policy, worry about liability related to AI misuse, or willingness to require a human employee-to-AI ratio — it’s the youngest group of employers who consistently voice the most apprehension.

Almost one quarter of Millennial employers are concerned their companies could use AI unethically, compared to 12 per cent of Gen X and only six per cent of Baby Boomers.

UK-specific findings
On the whole, UK employers and employees trust each other’s and their company’s ethics when it comes to AI. There is also surprisingly strong support among both UK employers and employees for the regulation of AI.

Just 26 per cent of employers in the UK said their company has a written policy on the ethical use of artificial intelligence/bots. And 43 per cent of those who said that their company doesn’t have a written policy, believe that it should have one.

29 per cent of employers are concerned their companies could face future liability related to their use of AI with the same number citing concern that employees will use artificial intelligence in an unethical way.

46 per cent of employees said that they possess the skills required to work in the AI-enabled workplace. 59 per cent of UK employees don’t believe AI or bots will take their jobs, just 23 per cent voiced concerns that this technology will take their job within the next ten years.

Half believe their company will stay competitive in the future without the use of AI/bots. A majority (64 per cent) said that there should be a requirement that companies maintain a minimum percentage of human employees versus AI-powered robots and machinery and 61 per cent of employers agree.

“As a company delivering numerous customer experience solutions enabled by AI, we understand this technology has great potential that also comes with tremendous responsibility,” said Steve Leeson, VP UK & Ireland, Genesys. “This research gives us important insight into how businesses and their employees are really thinking about the implications of AI – and where we as a technology community can help them steer an ethical path forward in its use.”