Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most ground-breaking technologies the world has ever seen, and industry leaders and marketers pretty much universally recognize the impact AI will have on every aspect of business and consumer life. But the fact that marketers are all in on AI doesn’t mean that consumers necessarily feel the same way.

With this in mind, we wanted to get a better understanding for ourselves how consumers view the current AI landscape, and what they think of its future prospects. To find out we surveyed 1,000 US respondents between the ages of 18-65 on their views of AI. Below is a summary of some key takeaways for brands and marketing teams.

AI is still an unknown for many average consumer

Though 47% of our survey respondents reported that they are comfortable with AI and how it’s being used in the marketplace, a significant percentage of people claimed not to be aware of AI technology. 43% of survey respondents don’t know what AI is or have an understanding of how it’s being deployed around them, and a further 7% reported that they don’t know and don’t care what AI is.

In the tech world it can feel like AI is the most interesting and significant topic of conversation, but less than half of the consumers we surveyed had a solid grasp of the technology and its uses

The smart home has the biggest impact for consumers

For the consumer, the smart home represents the most visible and personally impactful use case for AI technology. When asked where they believe AI was having the biggest impact on their personal lives, 39% of consumers responded by citing smart home devices, such as voice assistants, Nest thermostats, and Ring doorbells. The runner-up response was 18% of respondents who said AI would have the biggest impact on maps and navigation.

Human interaction remains essential

A particularly interesting finding from the survey, and one that’s essential for brands to keep in mind, is that consumer desire for human interaction is still quite strong. A huge percentage of respondents (87%) said they would trust the diagnosis of a human doctor over an AI one. This despite the fact that 24% of respondents believe that AI holds the greatest promise for healthcare.

In the context of customer service, the vast majority of respondents (41%) said they did not prefer having issues resolved without human interaction. This points to the wisdom of an AI strategy for brands that harnesses the power of the technology without using it to replace all other communication channels and touchpoints.

Fears for the AI-powered future are real

Only 26% of respondents said they feel “great” about Artificial Intelligence. A large majority (60%) feel “so-so” about AI, recognizing its potential but also noting that we need to be careful what it’s used for. Still, only a very small percentage of respondents (6%) said they feel bad about AI and that the technology presents a threat to humanity.

Two specific fears about AI were cited by large numbers of respondents. The biggest fear, cited by 34% of respondents, is that an AI program will make a lethal mistake or hurt people. A slightly small percentage of respondents (32%) cited their biggest concern with AI technology as the fear that it will one day replace all jobs and possibly humans.

Despite these fears, a majority of respondents either felt positive or neutral about the pace at which AI is rolling out. 38% said they feel comfortable with how quickly AI is being incorporated into their lives, while a further 26% say they feel neutral because they haven’t noticed one way or the other.

Key takeaways

The promise of AI for business is tremendous, but consumers still have concerns that brands must be aware of as they manage AI rollouts. Our survey findings point to the benefit of using AI to augment experiences and customer service, without replacing human touchpoints altogether. An awareness of consumer sensitivities around the technology can help brands avoid missteps.