An interesting study by the City & Guilds Group suggests that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation is not a concern for employees, but it is top of mind for their employers.
Well, in some countries anyway – South African CEOs seem less worried about it than their overseas counterparts.
The Skills Confidence Survey conducted between 9th May and 17th May this year had 8 157 respondents across the UK, US, India and South Africa. Of those that participated 1 028 were senior leaders, 2 079 were middle management and 5 050 were general employees.
While this sample size is rather small, the results were nonetheless very interesting.
So what do the numbers tell us?
For one, South Africans are not as afraid of automation and artificial intelligence as the rest of the world. Only 37% of the country’s general workers feel threatened by the rise of the machines. Looking at middle managers that number drops to 35% and climbs back to 39% when senior leaders were faced with the question.
Looking at the UK, the numbers are quite different. As much as 58% of senior leaders feel threatened by AI while only 33% of general employees feel the same. This suggests that senior leaders are more aware of current technological trends, and thus feel they have more to be worried about.
This suggestion is further reinforced when looking at responses to the statement, “I believe automation and artificial intelligence could replace a number of jobs in my organisation in ten years’ time.”
That number rises as you climb higher up the management rungs with 65% middle management saying they agree with the statement and 70% of senior management agreeing that machines will replace some humans in the workplace.
When looking at the rest of the world then, it’s safe to say South Africans are relatively unaware of the threats AI and automation pose to the employment of humans.
Only 28% of general employees in South Africa believe a machine could do their job. Of the senior leaders surveyed, only 34% believe AI could easily replace them.
What’s most interesting about this study is the suggestion that perhaps we should be more clued up about whether machines will one day be able to wrest our jobs from our hands.
Perhaps a new Terminator movie where Arnie plays an office worker who never stops working, putting his human colleagues to shame would help?
[Source – City & Guilds] [Image – SA BY/2.0 Gisela Giardino]