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‘AI super-users’, primarily Millennials and Gen Z, display high engagement and confidence in the technology. However, the older generations, Gen X and Baby Boomers, show a significant lack of engagement, with 88% unclear on how AI will impact their lives.

Salesforce’s recent Generative AI Snapshot Research reveals intriguing insights into the use of AI, uncovering this group of ‘super-users’. The survey, involving over 4,000 respondents from the US, UK, Australia, and India, shows that 49% of the population has used generative AI, with over a third using it daily. Interestingly, 64% of non-users would use AI more if it were deemed safer and more secure. The study underscores the need for safety, security, and education in AI for wider adoption and to maximise its potential benefits.

Diving Into the AI Divide

The data from Salesforce’s Generative AI Snapshot Research paints a vivid picture of a generational technological divide. The younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, drive the increasing acceptance of generative AI, with 65% of the ‘super-users’ falling into these age groups. These ‘super-users’ frequently engage with AI technology, showcasing their confidence and trust in its capabilities. Moreover, 72% of these ‘super-users’ are employed, further emphasizing their active engagement with AI in the workplace.

On the other hand, non-users, primarily from the Gen X or Baby Boomer categories, account for 68% of the respondents. Their lack of engagement with AI is significant, with 88% voicing uncertainty about the technology’s impact on their lives. Forty percent state they are not familiar enough with AI, and 32% do not see its utility in their daily lives. The disparity in the understanding and use of AI across these generational lines signals a clear AI divide.

The potential of AI: beyond entertainment

Generative AI is not just a tool for amusement or exploring topics of interest. The survey reveals that 75% of AI users want to leverage this technology to automate tasks at work and enhance work communications. This desire to expand the use of AI beyond leisure activities underlines the potential benefits it can bring to productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

However, while there’s a clear interest in maximizing the potential of AI, its widespread adoption is hindered by safety and security concerns. Sixty-two percent of users stated they would use AI more if it could be deemed safer and more secure. This sentiment also echoes among non-users, with 64% expressing they would be more inclined to use AI if they felt it was safer and more secure.

Trust and security in AI

The concerns around the safety and security of AI are not unfounded. As generative AI advances rapidly, risk and security have indeed become increasingly prominent issues. Avivah Litan, VP Analyst at Gartner, emphasizes the need for an enterprise-wide strategy for AI trust, risk, and security management, noting that users must trust vendors’ abilities to execute security objectives.

Generative AI poses risks such as factual errors, deepfakes, data privacy breaches, and copyright issues. To address these, organizations are encouraged to implement manual reviews, establish governance frameworks, monitor unsanctioned use, and protect sensitive data. Providing users with systematic privacy assurances and effective content filtering for engagements with AI models is essential to mitigate these risks and build trust.

Education as a key to bridging the AI divide

Alongside safety and security, education is crucial in fostering wider acceptance of generative AI. The survey shows that 70% of non-users would use AI more if they had more understanding of the technology. This highlights the need for accessible and comprehensive education about AI, its uses, and its impact.

Efforts to educate users about AI should not only focus on its benefits but also its risks, giving users a balanced and informed understanding. This could help alleviate the uncertainty and unfamiliarity expressed by a significant portion of non-users, particularly those from older generations, and pave the way for wider adoption of AI.