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AI@Work Study 2019

Can you trust a robot more than your manager? Oracle study says 64% already do

Maika Möbus
© Shutterstock / HBRH

This year’s AI@Work Study returned some surprising results: More than half of the respondents claimed “they’d trust a robot more than their manager”. The perceptions of artificial intelligence varied widely depending on demographics like age, country and gender.

More than 8,000 people took part in a new global survey on the use of AI in the workplace. The AI@Work Study 2019 was conducted on behalf of Oracle and Future Workplace among HR leaders, managers and employees. Which benefits can artificial intelligence offer, how trustworthy is it and what is preventing companies from using it?

Are robots our future managers?

The respondents expressed different expectations about the opportunities AI could offer. Nearly half (46%) said they believe AI will let them have more free time, while others had faster promotions (17%) or a higher salary (16%) in mind. Approximately one in five people (19%) saw no potential opportunities from using AI in the workplace. Overall, the trustworthiness of AI was very positively received, as the study claims:

A whopping 64% said they’d trust a robot more than their manager, and 50% have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice.

Not only did survey participants view robots as more trustworthy, but many considered them to be more capable as well: According to 38%, robots can do certain types of work better than their human superiors.

Were the respondents just thinking of their future bosses when giving these answers? After all, 32% of all workers in the study were convinced their managers will be replaced by robots. This opinion was most frequently expressed in India (90%) and China (88%). The US (57%), France (56%) and the UK (55%) were at the other end of the scale. In addition to the geographical component, the assumption differed between generations. Gen Z were most likely (39%) to expect a robot will someday replace their manager, while Baby Boomers (14%) were most likely to disagree.

Excitement is dampened by security concerns

Regarding the prospect of artificial intelligence sounding more human, words like “amazed” or “excited” were voiced by 38% of respondents. Excitement was most prevalent in India (60%) and China (56%), compared to the UK (20%) and France (8%). Age had an effect as well, as millenials showed more excitement (31%) than Baby Boomers (14%). Excitement about AI was also expressed less frequently by women (21%) than by men (30%).

If AI is so exciting and amazing, what’s keeping companies from using it? The two main reasons tied at 31%: The participants prefer human interaction and are concerned about security. Privacy concerns (30%) play a major role as well. Additionally, the survey participants were asked how AI could be simplified in order to use it more. Among the ideas were a better user interface (34%), personalization to the user’s needs (30%), best practice training (30%), or an instruction guide (25%).

Methodology

The survey was carried out by market research firm Savanta on behalf of Oracle and the research firm Future Workplace. It was administered online in 10 countries and six languages to 8,370 HR leaders, managers and employees, working full-time and between the ages of 18 and 74. They received a small monetary incentive for participating.

The AI@Work Study 2019 can be downloaded at Oracle.

Author
Maika Möbus
Maika Möbus has been an editor for Software & Support Media since January 2019. She studied Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

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