Will AI eventually replace people in all areas of work?

AI is changing the working landscape, prompting business leaders to reevaluate future plans when it comes to investing in people and technology.

We recently ran a nationwide study with 800 professionals - from entry-level to senior executives - to discover the views on the possibilities of AI and software, resulting in clear North-South and generational divides of opinion.

  • Nearly half of professional people in the UK (47%) feel AI has the potential to transform everyone’s lives for the better. 
  • Entry-level employees’ have strong opinions on the opportunities and risks of AI - whereas senior executives remain on the fence.
  • Northern business leaders are more cynical about AI than Southern counterparts.

Will AI do more harm than good?

Just last year, almost 30,000 people, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk, signed a petition to pause the development of powerful AI systems for the good of humanity, which is clearly a topic that continues to split opinion. 

This was reflected in the results of Propel Tech’s survey. Despite 47% of all UK respondents firmly believing that AI will transform everyone's lives for the better in the future, 41% of individuals felt strongly that the risks outweigh the benefits, and 11% of people were still undecided.

When it came to opinions of senior, more mature executives, versus younger, more junior employees, the survey revealed a marked generational difference in an AI mindset.

45% of senior executives sat on the fence when it came to recognising opportunities or risks that AI may create in the future by remaining undecided, with just 35% of this group believing that AI will transform everyone's life for the better in the future.

In contrast, younger, entry-level employees had a much more polarised view on this issue, with 49% sharing a strong opinion that AI will transform lives for the better, and 48% feeling that the risks far outweigh the benefits. Only 3% of this typically younger group were undecided. 

When it came to sectors, opinions remained consistent and constant, with the biggest determining factor to strong viewpoints being location, age and seniority - rather than industry. 

Responders from the South of England were much more optimistic about the benefits of future AI, with 56% of people in the South of England believing that AI would positively transform everyone's lives, compared with just 40% in the North.

Will AI eventually replace people in all areas of work?

Overall the view is that over the next 10 years AI will permeate every part of our working lives and it will reach into every industry in every profession, with 42% of all those asked agreeing with the statement that eventually software-powered AI will replace people in all areas of work. This is reinforced by a recent Tech Target report that identified workers in customer services, legal, coding, teaching, finance, engineering and HR as some of the first roles that could be replaced by AI. Time will tell. 

Ironically, another article by Forbes reported that people who actively choose to use AI in their jobs are more likely to fear being replaced by it. 

When looking at the view of just senior-level executives, they feel the role of AI will be much less impactful, and 58% of senior-level executives do not feel that AI will replace workers across every area of work and that people are intrinsically more important. A whopping 84% of senior executives in the north of England do not feel that AI will replace people in all areas of work.

The story continues

Propel Tech believes that bespoke software development offers endless possibilities. In the last 12 months, software changes have been driven not only by developers but by cutting-edge technologies such as AI. As part of its ongoing commitment to understanding the future of bespoke software development, we this comprehensive survey involving over 800 respondents across a wide range of businesses and a diverse set of roles. It asked respondents their views on AI and software and their impact on the future of work and society. Discover more on the survey outcomes.

Author: Claire Anderson
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