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Businesses see AI as a future investment, even though most organizations are actually already using it, a study finds.
While only about a quarter of surveyed business executives say they're currently using artificial intelligence in the workplace to automate manual tasks, a vast majority of those who said they weren't using AI actually were without realizing it.
The National Business Research Institute in conjunction with Narrative Science, an AI technology company, surveyed more than 230 senior US business and technology executives in April and May to learn how they use AI-related technologies in their organizations.
About 26% of respondents acknowledged using AI systems to automate repetitive tasks, up from 15% surveyed last year. But 88% of those who denied using AI solutions reported that they rely on services or products powered by AI techniques. These include predictive analytics, automated written reporting and communications, and voice recognition and response.
Inability to recognize AI in one's environment could be attributed to human failings, but there's a more reasonable explanation: "Artificial intelligence" is an ill-defined term.
"This significant disconnect underscores the fact that there is confusion when it comes to the definition of AI, and this goes to the heart of one of the key issues with AI," the report says. "It has the promise of being used in so many places that a clear definition of what it is and the guaranteed ROI remains hazy."
Part of the problem is that "intelligence" often implies some degree of quality in terms of algorithm design and the decisions AI services make. Evaluating whether a decision was intelligent or less than so isn't always immediately obvious.