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The people want robots

Research by OpenText has shown that despite the rising access to artificial intelligence that people have both at home and at work, people in the UK are often unaware of using the technology – although interest in automation is rising.

Almost half (45 per cent) of respondents to the survey said that they ‘were not aware’ of interacting with AI in the past 12 months, but close to a fifth (17 per cent) said that they are ‘excited’ about the technology.

That mirrors increasing interest in the topic globally, with products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home bringing artificial intelligence into peoples’ daily lives. The University of Helsinki and private company Reaktor, for example, recently announced a free online course to teach people about the subject. 24,000 have signed up since it went live this week.

Janina Fagerlund, a UI designer at Reaktor, said, “The fact is that we have 24,000 enrollees in the course and when we looked at who was signing up, we saw that they’re from every age group; from people below the age of 20 up to 75 year-olds. They are professors, the unemployed, day care workers and dentists – people with very different backgrounds.”

OpenText found that more than a third (35 per cent) of people living in the UK would feel comfortable working alongside a robot, and almost a quarter (23 per cent) would encourage their employer to take one on, if it meant a reduction in their day-to-day admin work.

The news was not all positive, with 21 per cent of respondents believing that Brexit will affect the UK’s ability to innovate in artificial intelligence.

Mark Bridger, VP of OpenText UK, said:

“While sci-fi films can distort the impact of AI technology, it’s time to stop viewing AI as an existential threat to our livelihoods and our health. AI will transform the workplace, as menial tasks, and some non-routine jobs, are digitised…but it cannot replace people. The true value of AI will be found in it working alongside humans to ease the pressure at work and across the healthcare system as well as making our lives easier.”

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