84 per cent of senior executives in the North of England say AI will never replace people

Like it or not, AI is changing the working landscape, prompting business leaders to re-evaluate future plans when it comes to investing in people and technology.

A Wakefield software company 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 divide.

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.

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Will humans be replaced by AI?Will humans be replaced by AI?
Will humans be replaced by AI?

This was reflected in the results of the survey software company, Propel Tech, carried out. Despite 47 per cent of all UK respondents firmly believing that AI will transform everyone's lives for the better in the future, 41 per cent of individuals felt strongly that the risks outweigh the benefits, and 11 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent sharing a strong opinion that AI will transform lives for the better, and 48 per cent feeling that the risks far outweigh the benefits. Only 3 per cent of this typically younger group were undecided.

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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 per cent of people in the South of England believing that AI would positively transform everyone's lives, compared with just 40 per cent in the North.

Will AI eventually replace people in all areas of work?

Overall the view is that over the next ten years, AI will permeate every part of our working lives and it will reach into every industry in every profession, with 42 per cent 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.

When looking at the view of just senior-level executives, they feel the role of AI will be much less impactful, and 58 per cent 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 per cent of senior executives in the north of England do not feel that AI will replace people in all areas of work.