Tuesday, 10 April 2018 04:39

Research finds consumers trust AI in healthcare more than banking or retail

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An online survey of 500 consumers across the US, representing an age range of 18-70+, indicates 47% of people are comfortable with artificial intelligence in the operating room, while consumers were least comfortable with the idea of AI in retail.

The research was conducted by global analytics software company SAS and announced today at the SAS Global Forum 2018 in Denver, Colorado.

AI is becoming a major topic for software companies around the world. The survey posed a variety of real-world AI scenarios, and requested respondents advise their degree of comfort.

The research also found people became more uncomfortable with AI the more human interaction was removed. This was especially pronounced in banking, and especially retail.

AI technicians assisting physicians in patient care rated well, even when asked about surgery. More than half of respondents over 40 were willing to undergo surgery with the help of technology. Sixty-one percent of participants were comfortable with their doctor using data from wearable devices such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit to assess their lifecycle and make recommendations based on the data from that device. In the healthcare scenarios, it appears the presence of the physician contributes significantly to people’s comfort.

Survey respondents were generally not comfortable with banks using AI to interact with them except for fraud monitoring, with 59% in favour of this application. The least popular banking scenario was the use of AI to assess a customer’s credit history to make a credit card recommendation.

Retail AI scenarios received the least support. Forty-four percent of consumers were willing to share location information to personalise their shopping experience, while only 36% were willing to use their smartphones to enter and shop in cashier-free stores. Responses were more evenly split when asked their comfort about online retailers using past purchase behaviour to recommend new items, with 49% comfortable and 51% uncomfortable.

A second concern affecting people’s comfort with AI was ensuring privacy of data. Only 35% of respondents were confident at all their personal data used for AI would be securely stored. This was greater among those under 40 years of age, at 42% vs 31% of older respondents.

The survey also found 47% of respondents were comfortable with companies using AI in business interactions generally, with men slightly more comfortable than women at 53% to 43%.

However, despite AI being a buzzword, the research also found only 44% of respondents felt they could explain the concept of artificial intelligence to a friend or colleague.

“Consumers feel positively about AI when they believe it’s being used for good,” said David Tareen, marketing manager for AI at SAS. “In this survey, healthcare scenarios were well-received, indicating that respondents were comfortable with a tangible benefit to the technology. Overall, a lack of understanding about what AI is and can do is a significant factor for those who fear it.”


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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