McCann Worldgroup’s ‘truth’ boss dispels AI job fears
Global research by McCann Worldgroup suggests that the marketing industry is at the highest risk of being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI), with the military and police less likely to face significant transformations.
The findings were presented by the global advertising agency network’s chief intelligence officer and president of its Truth Central division, Laura Simpson, during last week’s Chatbot Summit at London’s ExCel centre.
The division Simpson runs is a global intelligence unit dedicated to unearthing the truths that drive people’s attitudes and behaviours.
During her presentation: On the Verge of Seismic Change? How AI Reshapes Human Interactions with Brands, Simpson acknowledged that there was a nervousness around the impact that AI was going to have on a whole range of industries.
She then unveiled the results of an MW study involving interviews with over 18,000 individuals across 17 countries, seeking to understand people’s attitudes and perceptions regarding AI.
Respondents were asked to provide insights into which professions they believed were least most and least likely to be replaced by technology.
Marketing and communications emerged as the most vulnerable sector, surpassing education, hospitality, military/police and manufacturing. Military/police were considered least susceptible to the impact of AI due to ongoing threats of terrorism.
“I’m sure I’m not the only marketing professional in the room,” Simpson said. “So maybe this gives you some nervousness. We know that this is something that people are feeling concerned about.
“We know there’s nervousness around the impact that AI is going to have with tonnes of different industries – but what our research allows us to do is understand what real people actually know about AI right? Do they even understand it? How they describe it?”
Perceptions of AI
A significant finding was that only 55% of people worldwide believed they regularly or even occasionally interacted with AI. In the UK, a substantial market, this figure was even lower at 37%, showcasing a significant underestimation of its influence on everyday interactions.
“So, people are hugely underestimating the way that AI is already influencing all of the interactions they have in their lives, whether that’s using Netflix or using Google, but it’s way more ubiquitous than ordinary people understand,” Simpson said.
Respondents were also asked to describe AI in their own terms, yielding a diverse range of responses. Some viewed AI as a means of problem-solving, while others envisioned robots. However, a large portion admitted to not fully understanding the concept.
The research delved deeper into people’s sentiments and expectations from the technology. Globally, individuals were most excited about its potential to simplify life, followed by its role in entertainment and content creation and its ability to enhance job performance. In terms of AI’s impact on the world, 55% of respondents held a positive outlook.
Notably, there were regional differences in perception, with Asia displaying greater optimism about AI making the world a better place, while the UK exhibited a higher degree of scepticism.
Concerns varied across cultures, with privacy and job monitoring being predominant fears in specific regions. For instance, Germany expressed apprehensions about employer surveillance, while Brazil showed a more positive view of AI despite concerns about government control and corruption.
“Obviously, misinformation is a huge fear in America (38% said AI will make the world better),” Simpson said. “So again, depending on the country, depending on the cultural context, people understand AI differently. For me, this is one of the most interesting fears and this is a data point that I think about a lot as I think about the human relationship with AI.
A significant worry highlighted in the research was the difficulty in distinguishing AI from real individuals online.
Globally, 63% of respondents expressed this concern, emphasising the intricate human-AI relationship and the potential challenge of discerning authenticity in an AI-driven world. The findings underscore the necessity for a deeper understanding of AI’s implications and the importance of effectively navigating its integration into society.
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