By Marina Laven

Artificial intelligence has already disrupted myriad consumer products and services. Soon, a company’s ability to remain competitive will necessitate that they incorporate AI, not only to save time and money, but also to develop products that better serve consumer needs.

To gain a better understanding of how Canadians view artificial intelligence and its impact on their personal and work lives, we surveyed 1001 adults in our Canadian Artificial Intelligence Tracker. One piece of that study, which we share here, focused on perceptions about the areas of life that artificial intelligence is likely to affect the most in the next 5 years.

Top Areas to be Affected by Artificial Intelligence

From a list of 11 categories, research participants identified the areas of life that they felt artificial intelligence would affect the most in the next 5 years. Tied at first place with 55% of people choosing each one were transportation and communications, basic areas of life that nearly every Canadian depends on every day. At the other end of the spectrum, government (21%) and travel (28%) were selected least often. Given that many people travel only a few times per year, perhaps around seasonal holidays or for a vacation, and government services are mainly accessed as needed, it’s not surprising that they are low on the list.

 

Gender Differences in Perceptions of Top AI Areas

For the most part, both men and women rank ordered areas of life in the same way. However, it is interesting to note that women tended to identify more areas than did men (about 9% more, i.e., for every 5 areas men selected, women selected 5.5 areas).

In assigning these ‘votes,’ women were more likely to choose communications, customer service, retail, and travel as likely to be affected by AI. On the other hand, in areas like entertainment, medicine, marketing, finances, education, government women and men were equally likely to say the areas would be affected by AI. In only one area, namely entertainment, and purely numerically not statistically, were men more likely than women to say that AI would affect it the most within the next 5 years.

 

Age Differences in Perceptions of Top AI Areas

In terms of age, people again rank ordered the areas quite consistently. But, there were a few interesting differences.

For example, people aged 65 and older were more likely to say that communications and medicine would be most affected by AI, perhaps because as older Canadians they are more in tune with how AI is already impacting their health services. And older people were less likely to choose customer service and entertainment as most affected by AI, again perhaps because they are less focused on these areas in their lives. To balance that out, although young people were generally more likely to recognize various areas as being impacted by AI, they were less likely to say that medicine and education would be impacted.

Implications

Canadians recognize that many areas of life will be impacted by AI in the coming five years. It seems as though they are more likely to recognize the impacts it will have on areas that affect them every day such as transportation and communication, and less likely to recognize its impact in areas that affect them on more rare occasions, e.g., government and travel.

And, it’s clear that perceptions depend on demographics. For instance, older people are more likely recognize the impact AI will have on medical care, and women are more likely to recognize the impact AI will have on retail and customer service.

Just as brands and services take care to target to specific demographics, it’s clear that AI strategies must also focus on their target audience. It’s not necessarily important for everyone to be aware of how AI will impact every product and service, but it’s certainly important for people within the desired target group to understand and appreciate the benefits that AI will bring to the product categories that matter the most to them. Companies that are able to balance Canadian perceptions of AI with the needs of their products and services in a targeted way will see the most growth in the coming years. Please download the full report to learn more. 

Methodology: The Canadian Artificial Intelligence Tracker was conducted by Sklar Wilton & Associates among Canadians 18+ with data collected from July 31 to August 7, 2017. Participants were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of adult Canadians (e.g., age, gender, region, industry). Estimates of sampling error cannot be calculated. All sample surveys are subject to error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error. 

Click here to download the Sklar Wilton Canadian Artificial Intelligence Paper 2017