IoD How does business view AI?

The accelerating development of AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, has sparked a debate on how the government should approach AI regulation.

For example, a large number of prominent individuals from the tech community including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak recently signed a letter asking for a pause in AI research, due to their concerns about the profound risks that it may pose to humanity.

Meanwhile, the Competition and Markets Authority is launching a review of the artificial intelligence market in order to assess the opportunities as well as what needs to be done to ensure consumers are being protected.

To that end, in April we asked IoD members the extent to which they think AI poses a risk or an opportunity to their own organisations, and in general, the response was both. However, the data shows it is felt there is more of an opportunity than a risk, with a total of 52% responding ‘opportunity’, and 24% ‘risk’.

Anecdotally, members are optimistic about how AI can help to streamline human activity in the workplace. For example, many told us that systems like ChatGPT will be really helpful for carrying out large volumes of research, conducting briefings, and data analysis. Others say AI will be useful in supplementing human capacity in R&D and innovation, particularly in areas like pharmaceutical and tech.

Some have also noted that AI is a genie that will be quite difficult to put back into the bottle, and so the UK government should do all it can to harness it for positive impact, particularly as global players compete in this area for the top spot.

On the other hand, many feel the risks predominantly lie in the fact that we don’t know enough about AI at this stage to be moving at such a pace. Members are concerned about the misuse of personal data and the displacement of jobs. They also worry that if it is not regulated it will be open to abuse, leaving organisations and individuals exposed to security breaches. For these reasons many IoD members are calling for a regulatory framework to manage and control the use and application of AI.

Out of interest, we also asked ChatGPT to write this blog for us, giving it the data table and the answers to the survey question. Slightly irritatingly, it only took it 2 minutes to come up with a conclusion not too dissimilar to ours, and while it was straight to the point and largely objective, it didn’t hesitate to take the chance to declare itself “transformative”. It wrote:

“While some businesses see AI as a significant opportunity, others view it as a significant risk. As AI continues to evolve, it will be important for organizations to carefully evaluate its benefits and risks and develop strategies for effectively leveraging this transformative technology.”

Ultimately, AI presents both an opportunity and a risk, and there needs to be measures in place to help to exploit the former and manage the latter.

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