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AI to become next Australian Prime Minister?

AI to become next Australian Prime Minister?

Research shows some Australians believe AI would make better decisions than elected government representatives

Credit: Dreamstime

Over a quarter of Australians believe artificial intelligence (AI) would make better decisions than politicians, according to new research from OpenText.

The latest research is timely given Australia just witnessed another leadership spill that saw the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull by newly-crowned leader Scott Morrison. Morrison is the seventh Prime Minister in eleven years.

Overall, the research was broken down into four key areas: government, the workplace, healthcare and automotive.

On the government front, findings show 40 per cent of Australians believe AI will enter government within five years; while 27 per cent believe AI would make better decisions than elected government representatives, but want humans to make final decisions.

In government, AI technologies is expected to radically transform the public sector by helping to change the speed, reliability and quality of government outcomes, and can assist in a more robust public service to help meet citizens’ needs, the research said.

Respondents said they recognised the value of intelligent automation in reducing waiting times, admin and errors within the public sector.

In that vein, the majority (56 per cent) of respondents are convinced the government will work with robots within 10 years. This is higher than the US (where only 38 per cent think this will occur in the next 10 years), but contrasts to the Netherlands; where 73 per cent believe robots will be in the public sector within the next 10 years, the research noted.

On the work front, 25 per cent of respondents said they would encourage their employer to leverage robots if it meant reducing their day-to-day admin tasks; while 39 per cent of Australians are ready to work alongside a robot.

The research also revealed few concerns about robots taking over jobs. Only one in ten (11 per cent) of respondents are worried that their job could be replaced by a robot, and the majority (56 per cent) are convinced their role will never be taken over by automation.

On the topic of healthcare, 28 per cent of Australians think AI makes it possible to obtain more accurate diagnoses, while 21 per cent believe it can deliver faster results; and one in three said they would trust a diagnosis via artificial intelligence

On the automation front, 32 per cent of respondents believe autonomous vehicles would make roads safer; while 24 per cent would be comfortable in an autonomous or self-driving vehicle, the research said. 

One in three respondents (30 per cent) were adamant that there would never be more autonomous cars on the road than ‘normal’ cars. A further 45 per cent said they would never consider buying a driverless car or renting one on a per-use basis, the research found. 

Cautiously optimistic

But, at the same time, the research also found the majority of Australians remain cautious or unaware of the opportunities provided by AI in their daily lives, with only one in five respondents (18 per cent) aware of having been in contact with a form of AI in the last 12 months.

Despite voice assistants like Siri and Alexa growing in popularity, the survey of 1,000 Australians found that most are not yet convinced by AI, even if they’ve likely interacted with it on their mobile or via chatbots. In fact, only 21 per cent said they are excited about the technology, and 19 per cent said AI makes them nervous, the research noted.

OpenText A/NZ vice-president, Mike Lord, said businesses are turning to digital transformation, healthcare organisations are embracing medical technology innovations and, as a result, AI is filtering into every aspect of our lives.

“More and more Australians are seeing the benefits this will bring to the workplace and our wider lives, including the public sector. By performing more menial, repetitive tasks, automation and robotics allow us to be more efficient and save time,” Lord said in a statement.

“Sci-fi movies tend to distort the consequences of AI technology. It’s time to stop viewing AI as an existential threat to our livelihoods and our health.

"AI will transform the workplace, as menial tasks are digitised through robotics and process automation, but AI will never replace people. The true value of AI lies in its ability to work alongside humans to relieve work pressure, but also in the health system, with the goal of bringing comfort to everyday life.”

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