Merry AI Christmas, everybody! According to a new report, artificial intelligence is going to play a major role this year with 84 % of Brits set to “use AI at some point this Christmas”. But what does that actually mean? And why are people worried about it?

The report comes courtesy of Accenture, an Irish global management consulting firm that provides strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services. As AI becomes an increasingly large part of our daily lives for things like shopping, entertainment streaming and navigation, Accenture is predicting an extraordinarily large proportion of UK residents will encounter the technology over the Christmas period.

Perhaps a more striking statistic from the report is that 60 % of those studied said that they did not realize they would be interacting with AI in the situations examined. Only 20 % of participants said that would be happy with AI running their Christmas celebrations and 46 % said they had concerns about privacy and security. Around a quarter expressed concerns that AI isn’t responsible or ethical.

Of the report, Emma Kendrew, Artificial Intelligence Lead at Accenture Technology UK, said: “AI has become part of everyday life for many people, albeit often without them knowing what’s under the bonnet of their technology. However, trust issues still exist that are preventing some people using technology that has an AI label on it.”

“AI takes some mundane chores off our hands and frees us up to focus on more important things – not just at Christmas but all year round. Part of bridging that trust gap is showing people the many benefits that AI can bring – and playing a prominent role in so many Christmas celebrations could do a lot to change perceptions.”

Hang on a minute, what are we classifying as “AI” now….?

It seems to me that AI has a pretty serious public image problem. Either drunk on dystopian literature and cinema, or legitimate concern with how big tech companies have routinely gone about the handling of public data this year, AI has become a bit of a dirty word for a lot of people.

Just look at the numbers in this report. A quarter thinks it’s unethical, almost half are worried about privacy and security, yet most of us have accepted it as part of our daily lives. If there is so much negativity towards AI, where is the backlash?

That leads us onto another branding issue with AI. Are we really including the algorithms that Netflix uses to suggest content to viewers as AI? What about suggested products and targeted ads when we are online shopping? It seems to me that there is a disconnect between what we are classifying as artificial intelligence and what people imagine when they picture evil AI.

This is a problem solve itself over time, however. If you already have 84 % of the population using it, even if they don’t even know it, it becomes a much easier sell, PR wise. Convincing people that change is positive if it has already happened and they didn’t bat an eyelid should be easy, right?

Do you think AI has a public image problem? What can be done to turn it around? Does it even need turning around?


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