Consumer Inflation Sentiment Report

Consumers Know What AI Is — Not How It’s Integrated Into Their Daily Lives

September 2023

Two-thirds of employed consumers believe artificial intelligence can replace at least some of their work skills, and as with most things involving AI, there is controversy in what that means. Though some believe it impairs real human connectivity or imperils their jobs, others see AI’s potential to improve their working and personal lives.

Data shows that 53% of consumers expect the U.S. to enter a new recession, and consumers’ concerns regarding this potential recession may be heightening their worries about job security and the impact of AI on their careers.
PYMNTS found that 56% of consumers who feel optimistic about the impact of AI on their work-life believe AI will save them time. Forty-six percent of consumers that feel at least a little optimistic about the impact of AI on their work-life believe AI will reduce errors, while 35% believe that AI will help them communicate with others more easily.
However, seven in 10 consumers believe AI can already replace at least some of their professional skill sets. Young consumers, those making over $100K, and those working in an office environment are most aware of this skill overlap.


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    Artificial intelligence (AI) is already integral across many businesses and industries, but consumers are not as clear on the role AI plays — or should play — in their lives and jobs. The most recent PYMNTS Intelligence study finds that men and high-income earners are more likely to say they are very or extremely familiar with AI, whereas reported familiarity decreases among older age cohorts. Fifty-three percent of consumers expect the United States to enter a new recession, which may amplify consumers’ concerns about job security and the impact of AI on their careers.

    Our research also highlights how companies can work to show consumers how AI can benefit their lives beyond the workplace.
    This report is the 14th installment in the “Consumer Inflation Sentiment” series exploring consumers’ outlook on the American economy. For the “Consumer Interest in Artificial Intelligence” edition, we surveyed 2,338 U.S. consumers between Aug. 2 and Aug. 10 to better understand their evolving perceptions regarding AI in their daily lives and work.

    AI in Our Daily Lives

    Most consumers say they know what AI is but do not necessarily know how it plays into their everyday lives.

    AI often remains in the background and invisible to the end user, so many consumers report little interest in AI-enhanced activities or experiences. Actual use of AI-enabled technologies suggests that consumers may not realize how often they encounter AI in their daily lives. PYMNTS Intelligence found that consumers engage with an average of five AI-related experiences every week, including browsing the web, using navigation apps or reviewing product recommendations online, among others.

    Customers enjoy AI’s benefits in entertainment, communication and shopping.

    AI is not always in the background of consumers’ minds. When it comes to entertainment, 66% of consumers have at least slight interest in AI-enabled forms of entertainment, 65% in AI-enabled communication and 65% in shopping, a positive sentiment fueled by Generation Z customers.

    Movies and video games with computer-generated imagery (CGI) have captured consumers’ attention for decades. Nearly half of consumers are at least somewhat interested in AI-enhanced entertainment. This share rises from 46% to 62% for Gen Z, the generation with the greatest interest. That said, those in the entertainment industry fear they are at risk of becoming unnecessary as generative AI appears to be on the cusp of writing and editing scripts.

    As smartphones have enabled newer forms of communication beyond phone calls, utilizing data to make sharing emails, text messages, images, videos and memes commonplace, consumers are intrigued with how AI tools can streamline and augment communication. AI already appears here in forms such as predictive text and transcription, and 45% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in AI-enhanced communication. This share rises to 56% among Gen Z consumers.

    Similarly, shopping has benefited from AI, which can help compare features and personalize recommendations. In these instances, consumers already know about AI’s involvement or the benefits AI might bring to their experiences. Among Gen Z consumers, 60% are at least somewhat interested in AI-enhanced shopping, as are 44% of consumers of all generations.

    Consumers are most hesitant about AI in healthcare, banking and work.

    With health, finances and work, the sentiment tends to differ from that of entertainment and communication. In short, consumers are less interested in having AI touch their health records, finances and jobs. This difference may be due to privacy, trust and confidentiality considerations or concerns that AI may leave them jobless.

    Baby boomers and seniors are more hesitant about AI than other generations, whether due to a lack of familiarity or trust in the technology. While 42% of all consumers are at least somewhat interested in AI involvement in their healthcare, this share falls to 34% among baby boomers and seniors. Similarly, while 39% of all consumers are at least somewhat interested in AI involvement in their banking, this share falls to 28% among baby boomers and seniors.

    Work is the area of life in which consumers are least interested in AI involvement; just 37% of all consumers are at least somewhat interested in AI impacting this facet of their lives. One potential reason surfaced in our research: Some employed consumers may be concerned that AI will automate their jobs, leaving them valueless. PYMNTS found that 7 in 10 consumers believe AI can already replace at least some of their professional skill sets.

    At the same time, some also perceive AI’s ability to remove frictions and improve efficiency and accuracy at the office. Although Gen Z is most likely to acknowledge AI can replace some skills, the generation is also most likely to express interest in AI-augmented work. Overall, young consumers, those earning more than $100K and those working in an office environment are most aware of AI’s potential. In short, the verdict is out on AI’s role in the workplace, and the pros do not cancel out the cons.


    AI has already made its way
    into consumers’ daily lives.

    Still, a disconnect between how aware they are of AI’s presence and its actual presence in reality may affect how they perform their lives, shop and work. In other words, consumers are using AI without realizing it.

     

    PYMNTS Intelligence found that 49% of employed consumers whose role consists mostly or entirely of office work report that they are at least slightly dependent on AI to carry out their work. This mostly carries over to physical work, as 46% of those whose work consists mostly or entirely of physical work report the same AI dependence.

     

    Sixty-seven percent of employed consumers overall and 77% of employed Gen Z consumers express awareness of how AI fits into their work sphere, disclosing that AI can replace at least some of their skill set.


    Consumers Are Weighing the Pros and Cons of AI

    Are the time savings and productivity gains worth losing human interactions, privacy and even their jobs?

    The advantages and disadvantages of AI cause conflict among consumer sentiments. While they worry that too much AI will mean less human interaction, they also see AI’s benefit in making their work more productive.

    Consumers who express concerns about the negative impacts of AI on their work worry that AI would hinder human contact, render them too dependent on technology, violate their privacy or threaten their livelihoods. PYMNTS Intelligence found that 38% of consumers concerned about the impact of AI on their work worry that AI would impair human contact, and 35% are concerned about becoming too dependent on technology. Those annually earning more than $100,000 were more concerned than other income groups, with 40% expressing concern about becoming too dependent on technology and 29% worried about AI breaching their privacy.

    Employed consumers also see causes for optimism, including accuracy and efficiency. PYMNTS Intelligence found that 56% of consumers who feel at least slightly positive about the potential impact of AI on their work-life believe AI will save them time. Forty-six percent of these consumers believe AI will reduce errors, and 35% believe that AI will help them communicate with others more easily. Those annually earning more than $100K felt more positive than other income groups, favoring the time savings, improved accuracy and easy communications that AI offers.

    Conclusion

    AI has already made its way into consumers’ daily lives, but a disconnect between how aware they are of AI’s presence and its actual presence in reality may affect how they live, shop and work. While AI is often invisible to the end user, making it harder to evaluate, it is prominently featured in entertainment, communication and shopping, led by digital native Gen Z consumers. Consumers are more wary of AI when it comes to more personal matters such as their health or finances, however.

    For some employed consumers, AI may be a welcome capability that can relieve them of manual and repetitive tasks and free up time for higher value-added, more strategic endeavors. That sentiment is not universal, as other employed consumers remain worried that AI will automate their jobs away, negatively impacting their livelihood and employability. Employers seeking to attract and retain talent must offer ongoing training to ensure their employees can benefit from the upside AI offers and futureproof their skill set to continue to be — and feel — employable.

    Businesses seeking to attract consumers must be mindful that consumers do not all have the same level of interest, comfort and understanding of AI and should consider how and to what degree they incorporate AI into their messaging efforts. Entertainment, communication and shopping-related businesses may have an easier time with that messaging, as consumers appear more comfortable with and accepting of AI in those interactions. Businesses that are active in highly regulated and sensitive industries such as healthcare and finance, however, may wish to primarily promote data privacy and confidentiality while deciding how best to convey AI’s positive impacts.

    Methodology

    Consumer Inflation Sentiment: Consumer Interest in Artificial Intelligence,” produced independently by PYMNTS Intelligence, analyzes consumer sentiments on artificial intelligence and its role in their lives and jobs. We surveyed 2,338 U.S. consumers between August 2 and August 10 about their experiences with and perceptions of AI. The sample was balanced to match the U.S. adult population in key demographic variables. Our respondents’ average age was 47.9 years old, 51% identified as female and 38% annually earned more than $100,000.


    Read the August “Consumer Inflation Sentiment Report: The Great Resignation is Not Over” and other previous editions of the series for more.

    About

    Ingo

    PYMNTS Intelligence is a leading global data and analytics platform that uses proprietary data and methods to provide actionable insights on what’s now and what’s next in payments, commerce and the digital economy. Its team of data scientists include leading economists, econometricians, survey experts, financial analysts and marketing scientists with deep experience in the application of data to the issues that define the future of the digital transformation of the global economy. This multi-lingual team has conducted original data collection and analysis in more than three dozen global markets for some of the world’s leading publicly traded and privately held firms.


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