For Wall Street, AI’s rise is bringing back memories of the internet boom—the prospect of surging corporate productivity and consistent cost savings is sending shares of many tech companies soaring. But AI also poses serious economic risks, particularly in the labor market, which has left many workers feeling more fearful than excited.
Still, the use of AI is increasing in many workplaces. And if you ask high-paid workers who use generative AI—which can create text, imagery, audio, or video—how the technology has impacted their lives, fear isn’t the first thing to come to mind.
In fact, 59% of workers who use generative AI for market intelligence research said they would rather take a 10% pay cut than lose access to their AI tools, according to AlphaSense’s State of GenAI 2023 report. That includes 54% of financial services workers.
The rise of AI use among market intelligence researchers, who focus on understanding and detailing customer trends and behaviors, could signal that the technology’s role in other data-driven industries is about to surge.
After all, 80% of market intelligence researchers expect to increase their reliance on AI in the next year, citing time savings and reducing tedious work as its biggest benefits. And while some experts express concerns that the recent hype surrounding AI is overdone, U.S. companies have ramped up their bets on the technology over the past two years.
IT services and consulting giant Accenture, for example, announced a $3 billion investment into its data and AI practice for clients in July that will double its AI talent to 80,000 professionals. Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture, told Fortune’s Sheryl Estrada last month that he is preparing for 2024, when “leading companies will start to look at scaled applications of generative AI.”
“I think we’ll see most companies look to establish the foundation in terms of centers of excellence of responsible AI capabilities that they need to put in place to move forward,” he said.
Fervor over AI has certainly swelled among executives. Some 72% of CEOs ranked investing in generative AI as their top priority, even amid uncertain economic conditions, in a new KPMG survey of 1,325 chief executives who run businesses with annual revenues exceeding $500 million.
Monthly mentions of the term “AI” in press releases, earnings calls, and other public filings by U.S. companies with a market cap of over $1 billion have also soared 180% in the past two years, data from AlphaSense shows.
Venture capitalists have also flocked to AI startups in recent years. In the third quarter of 2023, even as overall startup deal funding sank 31% from a year ago, funding for AI startups rose 27% to $17.9 billion, Bloomberg reported in October, citing Pitchbook data. VCs are looking to sink their teeth into an AI market that reached $182.5 billion in total value in 2022 and is on pace to grow over 25% annually through 2025, according to PitchBook data.
Fears over AI risks—and relatively slow adoption rates
Despite the increased use of AI in some key industries, there are still fears about the economic risks the technology presents—and economy-wide adoption rates have been relatively weak.
Although Americans used AI more than ever in 2023, most remain unconvinced that the technology will be a net positive for the world. A recent Pew Research survey found 52% of Americans are more concerned than excited about AI, compared with just 10% who are more excited than concerned. Another 36% are equally excited and concerned.
Consumers’ fears may have influenced the relatively slow adoption rate of AI among many U.S. companies. On one hand, in a recent GitLab survey of 1,000 software professionals, 90% said they are using—or plan to use—AI in software development. On the other, the United States Census Bureau’s May Business Trends and Outlook Survey found that just 6.9% of U.S. businesses plan on using AI to “produce goods or services” in the next six months, illustrating how far AI is away from playing a significant role across the entire economy.