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Australians least confident in AI, reveals global Workday study
Tue, 30th Jan 2024

A new global study led by enterprise cloud applications provider Workday demonstrates that Australian organisations have the least confidence in AI among the 15 countries surveyed, suggesting the existence of a trust gap in AI technology. The study shows a distinct persistence of skepticism in the Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) business sector, leading to a lacklustre uptake of the technology.

Notably, the study found that 60% of Australian respondents harboured concerns about the trustworthiness of AI, the highest of any country surveyed. Little over half (51%) of Australians expressed confidence in their organisation's ability to demonstrate how their AI systems made unbiased decisions. Furthermore, 37% of respondents would not trust their organisation to identify and mitigate bias in sensitive characteristics when using AI.

Workday’s Chief Technology Officer, Jim Stratton, commented on the study, saying, “There’s no denying that AI holds immense opportunities for business transformation. However, our research shows that leaders and employees lack confidence in, and understanding of, their organisations’ intentions around AI deployment within the workplace. To help close this trust gap, organisations must adopt a comprehensive approach to AI responsibility and governance, with a lens on policy advocacy to help strike the right balance between innovation and trust.”

Workday’s Vice President and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Jo-Anne Ruhl, recognises the potential benefits of AI for Australian businesses. Still, she highlighted the need for continued effort to bridge the trust gap and assist both leaders and employees in embracing AI-based practices. This extends to the creation of organisations' ethical AI frameworks and the formation of robust regulation to ensure AI is appropriately safeguarded and supportive of innovation.

“We’re at a crucial point in the development of AI. With a nuanced, risk-based approach by the Australian Government and other regulators, along with proactive measures from organisations, we have the unique opportunity to get things right for people and businesses," Ruhl says.

Responding to the lack of trust in AI across the Australian workforce, the study found that 60% of Australian respondents were concerned about the reliability of AI. Just 40% of Australians welcomed AI in their organisation against a global average of 54%.

Australians were vocal about the need for more extensive regulation of AI. In response, half (51%) of Australian respondents said they believed companies cannot be trusted to self-regulate AI use fully. They were also found to be second only to Switzerland in their support for AI and data regulation measures. However, disappointingly, only 23% reported that their organisation was collaborating on AI regulation, on a sector, national, or international level.

No less important is the human factor when it comes to implementing AI strategies in business. A significant 55% of Australian respondents agreed that it's vital to consider how AI impacts people and not only its function. However, there persists a level of uncertainty, with 30% of respondents doubting that their organisation prioritises employees' interests over its own when implementing AI, the highest level of scepticism amongst all countries surveyed.