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Momentive Poll: Fortune Brainstorm AI 2021

Momentive Poll: Fortune Brainstorm AI 2021

Most workers expect AI to disrupt the workplace by eliminating jobs in the next 10 years

Nearly three in four workers (72%) expect AI to take away more jobs than it creates in the next 10 years; nearly 3x the number (26%) who expect it to create more jobs than it displaces, according to a new poll from Fortune and Momentive. 

  • Workers in the Business Support & Logistics, Consulting & Research, Technology, and Agriculture industries are some of the most optimistic about AI, but even among this group only about four in 10 expect AI to create more jobs than it displaces in the next 10 years
  • Workers in the Insurance, Transportation & Delivery, Personal Services, and Utilities & Energy industries are some of the most pessimistic about AI; about eight in 10 workers in each industry expects AI to take away more jobs than it creates in the next 10 years

Many workers use AI-supported software at work, though the percentage varies significantly by job function and industry

Nearly half of workers overall (47%) rely on AI-supported software for most (12%) or some (36%) of their job, while 34% say no part of their job requires AI and 17% are not sure. 

  • Marketing (68%) is the job function with the highest percentage of workers who use AI; Manufacturing and Operations are the job functions with the lowest percentages (43%, respectively) who use AI
  • By industry, Tech (68%) has the highest percentages of workers who use AI; Construction (37%) and Personal Services (40%) have the lowest 
  • Workers of all job levels, from individual contributor through C-Suite, are equally likely to say their job makes use of AI-supported software

Overall, 65% of workers say they always or often find themselves doing repeated, routine tasks at work—exactly the type of work that AI-supported software is meant to address.

Some job functions have more potential to yet be disrupted by AI than others. 

  • Among manufacturing workers, 71% say they always or often do repeated, routine tasks at work but just 42% say their job makes use of AI
  • Among customer service workers, 76% say they always or often do repeated, routine tasks at work but just 50% say their job makes use of AI
  • On the other hand, workers in marketing, IT, and R&D departments report higher uses of AI relative to the rates of repeated, routine tasks

Most workers are comfortable using AI-supported software at work, especially younger, male workers of color

Most workers (61%) say they are very or somewhat comfortable using AI-supported software at work, but varying comfort levels by demographics threaten to worsen inequalities.

  • Men (64%) are more comfortable than women (59%) and gender-noncomforming individuals (53%) to be comfortable with AI
  • Young workers (69%) are more comfortable than their older counterparts (59% among workers 35-64, 54% among those 65+)
  • Asians (68%), Hispanics (68%), and Blacks (67%) are more comfortable using AI at work; white (58%) and people of some other race (56%) trail

Workers point to a mix of advantages for AI in the workplace, as well as a mix of obstacles to using AI

Among those workers who say they use AI-supported software at work:

  • More than half (53%) say it has saved them time
  • 40% say it has sped up standardized tasks
  • 39% say it has reduced the frequency of errors
  • 38% say it has improved workflows
  • 27% say it has saved resources
  • 25% say it has increased their availability for more value-added work
  • 20% say it has decreased turnaround times
  • 19% say it has allowed for quicker reactions to industry trends
  • 19% say it has lowered costs
  • 15% say it has decreased distractions. 

On every measure above, workers at the highest ranks of their organizations (C-level, president, owner, etc.) reported higher frequencies of benefits from AI

Among those workers who don’t use AI-supported software, a plurality (45%) say their work would not benefit from AI—the top reason that is preventing them from using AI at their job. Significantly fewer say they’re prevented from using AI-supported software because of a lack of business justification (24%), privacy issues (20%), security issues (20%), lack of knowledge/know-how (17%), lack of budget (13%), impact on job security (10%), or bias in AI (6%). 

Since 2018, various concerns about AI have been creeping up

Eight in 10 people now say they are worried that artificial intelligence will be used to intentionally or unintentionally violate their privacy online (up from 73% in 2018), including 30% who are very worried (up from 20%).

About half of adults in the U.S. (52%) say they are online “almost constantly” (31%) or “just about every hour” (21%), with another 38% saying they are online “several times a day” and just 6% saying they use the internet “about one a day” and 3% “less often than that.” Those numbers are nearly unchanged from 2018. 

Three in 10 people (30%) say they think about the privacy of their personal information “everytime [they’re] online,” and another 37% say they think about it “a lot”—also unchanged from 2018. 

In the past three years, concerns about online privacy have been creeping up, such that a majority now describe the threat to personal privacy online as a crisis.

Similarly, an increasing number of people find AI to be creepy (59%) rather than cool (39%), and more people now than in 2018 say that “artificial intelligence will one day overpower human curiosity” (44%). 

Read more about our polling methodology here

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