Despite the hype, there’s a long way to go to convince Scottish consumers of the benefits of AI – new KPMG UK survey finds

Ian West (KPMG UK)

NEW RESEARCH released today from KPMG UK has found that while some Scots would use artificial intelligence (AI) to support everyday tasks, 82% have concerns or challenges that prevent them from using it. 

The survey found that one of the biggest barriers to AI adoption amongst Scottish consumers is that they prefer interacting with a human (47%). Across the UK, more than half of the 55 to 64 and the over 65 age groups said they wouldn’t use AI because they prefer to interact with a human. However, this dropped to less than a third for consumers aged 18 to 24.

Over a third of Scots (36%) surveyed reported that they have data privacy concerns which stop them from using AI. 18-24 year olds were the age group most concerned with data privacy, with 37% expressing fears.

While 18-24 year olds, part of the Gen Z population, were more likely to be open to using AI, almost half (45%) reported cost as the biggest barrier for adoption, citing that AI-enabled technologies were too expensive. 

Voice assistants was the most popular answer (47%) when Scots were asked which tasks and activities they’d be open to using AI for, with self-driving vehicles the least popular answer (23%). 

Across the UK, 18-24 year olds are most likely to use AI for tasks and activities such as facial recognition as a security key, chatbots for customer service and shopping, with only 7% saying they wouldn’t use AI for any tasks. Whereas the over 65s are more hesitant with more than a third saying they wouldn’t use AI for any tasks.

Saving time was the most popular primary motivation chosen by Scots for why they’d use AI, with 37% of respondents choosing the answer. 

Ian West, Head of Technology and Alliances at KPMG UK, said:

“AI is incredible technology with huge potential but there is much for businesses to think about when it comes to consumers’ views of AI. There are several barriers to adoption that need to be addressed by tech companies and by businesses who are rolling out the technology. Businesses need to be clear about the benefits of the technology and how it is transforming the proposition available to consumers for it to become accepted. 

“There are issues that you can’t really get around like preferring to interact with a human, however the integration of smarter AI that adapts to a consumer’s conversation style and preferences may help the interaction seem more natural. Businesses should look at why consumers prefer to interact with a human – is it because they can have a broader conversation? Is it because they think there is less chance of error? Is it because they want to negotiate? Once they consider these possibilities, then it could become easier for them to shape the narrative around why they have chosen to use AI and the benefits compared to if it was a human.

“Data privacy concerns also seem to be very prevalent amongst consumers. Tech companies and regulators need to look at what can be done to protect data and ease concerns if these technologies are to become widely adopted. This is becoming increasingly important as AI integrates more and more into our everyday lives, whether that be talking to a customer service chatbot or using a voice assistant in your home. As is often the case, regulation has fallen behind the development of the technology and it is important that this catches up if AI is to become mainstream. The recently published AI regulation whitepaper is a promising step in the right direction to address privacy concerns with AI.” 

Only 14% of Scottish consumers surveyed said they thought that the development of AI and its applications will support jobs, with 38% believing it threatens them and 36% believing it will equally support and threaten jobs. 12% were unsure.

Commenting on the threat of AI to jobs, Ian West commented: 

“There is a lot of concern around whether the increased use and development of AI will threaten jobs. There are going to be certain jobs that are at higher risk of automation from AI but for the most part, businesses should be looking at how AI can create efficiencies to free up time for their staff to concentrate on their most important tasks, not how it can replace staff. Almost a third of Scots reported that they would use AI to save time, if applied in a work context this would mean that their time would be freed up to spend on the most important elements of their jobs. The conversation should be about how AI can help us to do our jobs better and even help us do things we can’t currently do. If this is how the conversation is framed then AI should not threaten jobs but empower them.”

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