There are super-users of generative AI among the millennials and Generation Z crowd that grew up in a world with rapid high-tech advancements and gizmos, but those who are part of the Generation X and baby boomer sets have not quite warmed up to AI yet, according to findings of a recent survey conducted by Salesforce.
The survey, “Generative AI Snapshot Research: The AI Divide,” included 4,041 people, age 18 and older in the U.S., UK, Australia and India. Overall, 49% of all respondents said they had used AI, and of those users, a third said they use generative AI daily or plan to use it more.
Additionally, 70% of Gen Zers say they use generative AI, and 52% of them say they trust the technology to help them make informed decisions. 65% of AI users are within the millennial and Generation Z age bracket, and 72% of those users are employed. Six out of ten users responded that they are on their way to mastering the technology.
“The research certainly shows that more than other generations, Gen Z and millennials are actively seeking out information on generative AI, and that intentional learning may help them feel more confident in its value as it develops,” shared Mick Costigan, the VP of Salesforce Futures.
“That said, generative AI has the potential to raise everyone’s competence and skill sets. While we’re still in the early stages, we believe that generative AI can help all workers, regardless of generation, do their jobs more successfully and efficiently than they were even a year or two ago.”
According to Salesforce, frequent users of AI tend to be a “young, engaged and confident group of ‘super-users,’ meaning they use the technology frequently and believe they are well on their way to mastering it.”
The study suggests that baby boomers and Gen X do not share the same exuberance towards generative AI, as 68% of respondents who fell within the baby boomers or Gen X age bracket, born between 1946 and 1980, are “non-users.” Among those non-users, 88% are unclear on how generative AI could impact their lives, 40% aren’t familiar with AI, and 32% say it is not useful for them.
Furthermore, 70% of non-users responded that they would use generative AI if they knew more about it, 64% stated they would use it more if it was safer and more secure, and 45% stated they would use it more if it was integrated into the technology they already use.
But some industry experts believe that older workers may be better positioned to flourish with AI, once they warm up to it more.
“They will be better positioned to put it to use,” said Donncha Carroll, chief data scientist at Lotis Blue Consulting, a Chicago-based agency specializing in business transformation and talent management.
Carroll explained, “Older workers- Gen Xers and boomers – are going to be able to ask much better questions, so in a sense they should be better able to leverage these tools more effectively, once they get over that initial hump of this being a new technology or something that’s unknown, and of course this concept of continuous learning is going to be relevant for everyone, regardless of what age you are. In order to stay relevant in a fast-paced world, you have to keep learning, and that applies to everybody. It’s going to significantly increase the value of what older workers have gained through decades of hard-earned experience. What I think we will see happening is that firstly, these tools are going to be integrated more into existing processes and tools, rather than being something that is totally new, so we are going to see an evolution in the technology and tools that everyone uses so it will be hard to avoid them, number one.”
“A lot of people think that this [generative AI] is just going to speed up the search or discovery of information. It will do that, but I think more importantly, it’s going to provide new mechanisms for doing work, which will remove a lot of the transactional work performed by the younger generations, so it’s going to highlight the importance of institutional knowledge that older and more experienced workers have gained over the course of decades.”
Ben T. Smith IV, who leads the Communications, Media and Technology practice of Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm, said all ages will soon become super-users. “I don’t think this really disadvantages anyone, because it’s so approachable. It doesn’t share characteristics with technologies that have hurt people because they’re less approachable. This actually puts the power of all the data in the world in the hands of anybody with an iPhone. It should enable the vast majority of people.”
Smith added, “Broadly, this is the next big milestone, and the data shows that the adoption rate is incredibly fast. It couldn’t have been done before it could have been done without the processing power we now have, or the explosion of data that makes it possible. If you’re a boomer, you might be close to retirement, but Gen X will adjust. It’s actually going to make the use of technology more approachable in the same way that a lot of other developments over time have made technology more approachable.”