Is the nation really ready for the big AI takeover? Here’s what the stats say

Sam Kent

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Is AI coming for our jobs? Can we trust it? What value can it actually bring? 

These were the questions buzzing in everyone’s ears at last week’s webinar from TMW’s team of fervent future-gazers. 

What’s Moving the Nation? is our regular temperature check on how the country is feeling and behaving, and the subsequent implications for brands. This time around, because we’re mildly obsessed with the proliferation of AI tools and how they’re impacting our – well, every – industry, we wanted to see how the nation felt about the topic too. 

(If it’s something that interests you too, why not attend our Humans vs Robots event on November 9th? We’ll be talking real life generative AI use cases with experts from B2B brands. Find out more here.

Our What’s Moving the Nation panel comprised of Chief Strategy Officer Dan Bowers, Head of Data & Insight Tim Noblett, Executive Social Influence Director Olivia Wedderburn and Associate Planning Director Fred Brinton. In an eye-opening half-hour session, the TMW team harnessed exclusive insights from our Human Understanding Lab (HUL) to get under the skin of UK opinion. 

It all started with an overview of our collective state of mind. 

While people in general continue to be an uncertain bunch about our current situation (and understandably so), our HUL found that more positive emotions, such as calmness, relaxation and happiness are starting to shine through. And that’s even when factoring in the one in four of us who are feeling the strain of household finances.  

So, what else is inspiring feelings of uncertainty? 

Here we reach the crux of the matter: for most of us, it’s the constant forward march of new technology.  

With so much recent speculation about the big AI takeover, it’s been all too easy to get caught up in the negative hype. Our data delvers discovered that: 

  • 50% of respondents think AI is a real threat to humanity. 
  • 29% are concerned about the impact of AI on their jobs. 
  • 25% are excited about the opportunities AI provides, with this excitement being more prevalent in upper socio-economic circles. 

So, more than a few of us are worried about what AI will do next.  

But do we trust what it’s doing today? Our webinar hosts covered this issue too. Against the backdrop of a broader distrust of digital information (think: election rigging and fake news) only 26% of us trust AI to produce information that’s factual and unbiased.  

As you might expect, demographics play a key role. 

Gen Z are more likely to embrace new AI technologies and welcome its application within the workplace. Older generations, on the other hand, are less likely to invite it in, for fear of heralding in their own obsolescence.  

*Clears throat* It’s the ciiircle of life. 

Olivia Wedderburn made an important point. Quoting celebrated futurist Amy Webb, she stated that “this year, the internet as we know it is over,” and went on to detail the typical circle of life all game-changing tech developments must cycle through. Inevitably, before every mass adoption, come the years of uncertainty and scepticism.  

With the arrival of Web 1.0, people were adamant online shopping would never catch on. 

With Web 2.0, social sharing apps (and endless plates of avocado toast) were met with raised eyebrows. 

Now, with Web 3.0, developments like digital collectibles, virtual spaces and cloud technology have already gone through the hazing process and lodged themselves firmly into our online way of life. 

All of which points to AI following a similar trajectory. And, let’s face it, the use of AI is fairly ubiquitous already – from Face ID, to purchase predictions and beyond.  

Which leads us to the next section of our webinar. How can AI make life better for brands and consumers alike? 

While the nation remains uncertain about the new breed of AI tech, we believe that brands can embrace the opportunity to lead the way and embrace the new possibilities it introduces.  

We propose that the answer lies in three key territories – creativity, message and value. 

Our What’s Moving the Nation? team shared some positive use cases in each: 

Amp up the creativity 

  • Coca-Cola partnered with AI tool DALL.E to give their entire database a chance to generate weird and wonderful brand ads using digital art prompts. 
  • The WWF used Midjourney to envisage a not-too-distant future where everyday animals had become extinct. A call to arms for the climate crisis if we ever did see one. 
  • Artist Holly T made a digital twin of her voice, allowing fans to get collaboratively creative and democratising music production in one fell swoop. 

Power your message 

  • Nikon combined ethereal photography and would-be AI prompts to encourage photographers to keep seeking beauty in the real world. 
  • Heinz asked AI art tool to draw a generic bottle of ketchup… then smugly shared the very Heinz-like results, proving their category dominance. 
  • To coincide with the Women’s World Cup, Orange published a montage of male footballers performing some very fancy footwork on the pitch. Then, they revealed they’d used AI and VFX to overlay men onto the original footage of women. 

Unlock new value 

  • American Airlines successfully reduced their contrails by tweaking flight paths with AI. Results showed that if their efforts were scaled up across the globe, airlines could come together to reduce airlines’ impact on global warming by 20%. 
  • McDonald’s used ChatGPT to turn family road trips into feel-good moments with personalised audio stories based on who’s in the car and where they’re travelling. 
  • Finally, Cadbury undertook an epic feat of ‘digital charity’ by creating thousands of celebrity deepfake adverts which local businesses could use to promote themselves. 

To round off the session, we took a deeper look at the ethics of brands integrating AI into people’s lives – and livelihoods. 

AI is set to fundamentally change our daily lives, and it will play a huge role in how humanity progresses. The onus is therefore on brands to replace the current undertow of uncertainty with a sense of possibility, so they can educate and inspire the nation. 

Moreover, they must prove that AI can enhance human capability, instead of merely replacing it. 

So, that’s how AI is moving the nation. You can watch the full recording here, and look out for our next event, coming soon.  

And if your AI appetite has been whetted, join us on November 9th at our Humans vs Robots: The Alliance event to hear from brands like Google DeepMind and Finastra about how they’re putting generative AI to work, with practical advice for how you can do the same.