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AI at work will boost productivity, save money and improve people’s lives

Posted: 26 April 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

A new survey has revealed what has been described as a clear “turning point” in people’s attitudes towards the use of AI at work, with over half believing the use of virtual assistants will have a positive impact on their professional and personal lives.

The poll, conducted by Foster City based AI software for marketing firm Conversica, questioned 1,000 people on their views of the use of AI in the workplace and the benefits they feel could potentially be provided.

The results in particular showed Americans are ready and willing to embrace AI, especially when it comes to making their professional lives easier and freeing them up to work on high-value tasks—or even to pursue an office romance.

Mindless tasks

Coinciding with Administrative Professionals Day (April 26), the Conversica survey showed over half of respondents (52%) would like to have a virtual assistant and feel that with an AI assistant helping at work, they would be more productive (20%).

Respondents would also like an AI assistant to relieve them of “mindless, repetitive tasks” (26%) and work that isn’t a good use of their skills (17 percent). Some 26% of those polled view AI as a way to make time-consuming tasks easier, and when asked about artificial intelligence as the “next step” in terms of automating work, people see a positive future.

 Highlights include:

  • AI is the next leap after the computer – 18%
  • AI will make jobs easier – 18%
  • AI will make people more productive – 13%

The survey noted that one of the key benefits of AI is offloading repetitive tasks and freeing up human workers for more “thoughtful, high-value tasks”, with many work activities being labelled as “tedious.”

The results showed 19% of respondents want AI to eliminate those “boring tasks”, while 16% are hopeful that AI can help eliminate the need to work after hours.

Additionally, respondents hoped for AI to relieve them from work that is difficult without a computer (7%), and 6% want AI to help with work that is challenging.

Family time

Survey respondents were also asked to envision a future where an AI-powered virtual assistant will help them at work and what they would do differently. In addition to the 20% who said they would be more productive, 13% said they would “spend more time with family,” 10% said they would be “happier,” 9% said they would be “more successful,” and nearly 2% said that they would be free to “have office romances.”

“Tongue firmly in cheek, Conversica hasn’t noted an observable increase in office romances in situations where AI is present,” commented Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica. “What we do see is a turning point in American perceptions around artificial intelligence and a growing understanding that AI can solve real business problems and help human workers be more productive and successful.”

Generational trends

While the broad consensus among survey respondents is that AI can be helpful in their work lives, the Millennial generation (18-34 years old) is much more enthusiastic about the prospect of virtual helpers. Some 61% of Millennials would like help from a virtual assistant with some aspect of their job, as compared to 54% of Generation Y (35-44 years old), 53% of Generation X (45-54 years old), and 50% of Baby Boomers (55-64 years old). Notably, only 31% of Senior Americans (aged 65 and older) want help from virtual assistants.

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