Companies are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and optimize business functions. But according to recent research, the IT professionals who will be asked to implement the technology have decidedly mixed feelings about it, ranging from optimism to outright dread (and sometimes both at the same time).
That’s according to the 2023 State of IT report(Opens in a new window) from PCMag’s sister site Spiceworks Ziff Davis(Opens in a new window) (SWZD). For its research, the company asked 968 IT buyers from businesses in North America and Europe whether their organizations currently used AI or planned to do so. Among those who answered affirmatively, answers to follow-up questions were revealing.
It’ll Be Great
On the positive side, many IT pros see AI as a beneficial technology that can help advance their careers. Fully 74% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “AI will automate tasks and enable more time to focus on strategic IT initiatives.” In other words, they have faith that AI tools will free them from the more mundane chores of their roles and allow them to concentrate on tasks that add value to the business.
Other opinions were more sanguine, with 67% saying “AI will be a mission-critical element of our business strategy in the years to come.” (Fair enough.)
(Credit: Spiceworks Ziff Davis)
Still others seemed to be envisioning a science-fiction future that resembles movies more than reality. When asked to respond to the prompt, “I expect to work alongside intelligent robots/machines in the next 5 years,” 62% of those surveyed responded yes.
What does it all mean? Clearly, the IT professionals surveyed see AI usage in modern business as an inevitability. As the cost of entry of AI continues to trend downward, business software vendors will increasingly offer AI capabilities as differentiating features.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Then again, the same IT pros surveyed by SWZD saw serious potential downsides to the growth of AI. Just over half of the respondents agreed with the statement, “AI will put IT jobs at risk.” As was the case with earlier phases of IT automation, some professionals fear that AI technologies could eventually become so effective that it will put humans out of work.
Even more survey respondents were concerned about how AI will be used for data analysis, particularly when it comes to user data. The prompt, “AI will create major data privacy issues” drew agreement from 55% of respondents.
Recommended by Our Editors
But some respondents’ fears run even deeper. A remarkable 49% agreed with the statement, “Innovation in AI presents an existential threat to humanity”—perhaps recalling storylines from dystopian science fiction. They wouldn’t be alone; no less than Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk famously described AI as “summoning the demon.”
Whatever their personal feelings, however, most survey respondents seemed to agree that AI is here to stay, citing applications ranging from data analytics and automation to security intrusion and fraud detection, natural language processing, web and social media analytics, and more.
Editors’ Note: Spiceworks is owned by Ziff Davis, the parent company of PCMag.
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