A virtual assistant may be the key to happiness at work, according to research by Cisco.
The IT and networking company surveyed more than 2,200 white-collar workers in 10 countries, including the UK, to find out how they feel about advanced technologies in the workplace.
The 52-question survey revealed that most workers are optimistic, with almost all (95%) believing that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve work tasks such as scheduling meetings, taking notes, or typing documents and emails. When asked how a virtual assistant would benefit their team, more than half said it would increase productivity (57%) and focus (51%).
Six in 10 people said they want AI to do ‘drudge’ work such as scheduling meetings and taking notes. And even among people who said they don’t trust AI, 39% indicated they would gladly hand over their least favourite tasks to the technology.
Personality, age, and even interest in Star Trek have a bearing on people’s opinions on AI. Seven in 10 people who said they are trusting and enjoy new things (extraverts) thought advanced technology will create more jobs than it eliminates, whereas 54% of those who said they are cautious and crave routine (introverts) thought AI would result in mass unemployment. The survey also showed that Star Trek and Star Wars fans are more excited about advanced technologies than non-fans: 78% of fans said they are “super excited” about the possibility AI could help them perform better at work, compared with 68% of non-fans.
However, data privacy is still a key concern for 65% of respondents.
So how long will it be before AI is a familiar part of our working life? Separate research by Deloitte has found that 85% of UK organisations plan to invest in AI and the Internet of Things in the next three years.
Over half of the UK digital leaders surveyed expect that by 2020, they will invest more than £10m in digital technologies and ways of working — such as AI, cloud, robotics, blockchain, analytics, the IoT, and virtual and augmented reality.
Of all the digital technologies on the horizon, executives believe AI will have the biggest impact on their organisations in the future.
But investment in AI at this stage remains modest, with only 22% having already invested in it. Among those that have invested, only a third expect to spend more than £1m in 2017. This suggests that organisations are currently testing with pilots, rather than large-scale deployments, Deloitte said.
Just under half of respondents expect their workforce to get smaller as they adopt AI, but only 8% believe AI will directly replace human activity. Meanwhile, over a third believe AI will be used to augment expertise, with a focus on improving human decision-making.
“AI will have a profound impact on the future of work,” said Paul Thompson, UK digital transformation leader at Deloitte. “Our view is that human and machine intelligence complement each other, and that AI should not simply be seen as a substitute. Humans working with AI will achieve better outcomes than AI alone, and UK businesses need to get this careful balance right.”