Mar 12, 2024 - Technology

Western countries are more pessimistic about AI

Views on how AI has impacted workplace productivity, by region
Data: YouGov; Note: The "Europe" group includes Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, the U.K. and Sweden; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

New data from 17 countries shows workers in Asia are embracing generative AI tools for productivity to far greater degrees than Western workers — with Americans among the least positive about AI's workplace uses.

Why it matters: Business leaders fear that pessimism about AI in the West could make the U.S. and allied countries less competitive.

  • Experts say that the earlier companies and individuals experiment with generative AI, the quicker they will find ways to improve productivity and creativity.

By the numbers: Indians are the most likely (67%) to say that AI has improved overall productivity in their workplace over the last year, per YouGov, which conducted the poll.

  • Indonesia (65%) and UAE (62%) closely follow.
  • At the bottom of the list are Sweden (14%), the U.S. (17%) and U.K. (18%).
  • American, European and Canadian workers are twice as likely as workers in Asia to say they "don't know" whether AI helps productivity, suggesting lower levels of experimentation and stricter company rules about how AI can be used at work.
  • Other groups showing enthusiasm for AI as a productivity tool are young people ages 18-44 and men.

What's happening: Those working in their second or third language, or for a company based in another country, may find generative AI especially useful for checking their work and clarifying their communications.

An assistant with super powers is how Peter Deng, OpenAI's VP of consumer product and head of ChatGPT, advised a SXSW audience to think about AI in the workplace.

  • "My handwriting sucks, I can't really do arithmetic very well" Deng said, suggesting anyone with a comparable weakness think about how AI can be used to help overcome that and "appear more professional."
  • "Each individual will be able to do more with AI, but it's up to each individual to figure out how to apply it," he said.

What they're saying "I'm using [Microsoft] Copilot to summarize meetings and track actions. It doesn't write my emails so well - I don't use it for that," said Lisa Su, CEO of chipmaker AMD.

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