Real or AI? Consumer Challenges in Identifying Authenticity in the Digital Era

Consumers have a positive outlook on the use of AI for improving customer experiences, but express growing concerns regarding AI's expanding presence in other fields, revealed a study conducted by Savanta at PegaWorld iNspire. The study explored consumer perspectives on AI, its ongoing development, and its interactions with technology.

"As applications like Midjourney and ChatGPT bring AI to the masses, it's no surprise that we're seeing a degree of conflict. Let's not forget, many people are already accepting the benefits this technology can bring; after all, asking Alexa or Siri a question is nothing new for most consumers. However, it's also perhaps inevitable that as the spotlight on this technology intensifies, so does the level of fear and uncertainty around some of the more science-fiction influenced 'doomsday scenarios' surrounding it. As these concerns grow, the need for those organizations to demonstrate greater transparency in the outcomes these AI systems produce, and perform ethical bias tests to check how it 'behaves' at all times becomes clear," said Dr. Rob Walker, General Manager, Pega.

Presented by Pegasystems, the study revealed that there is a widespread acceptance of AI in areas related to customer experience. Approximately 67% of the respondents agreed that AI has the capability to enhance the customer service provided by the businesses they engage with. Furthermore, over half of the participants (54%) expressed the belief that companies utilizing AI are more likely to offer superior benefits to customers compared to those that do not employ AI.

In terms of consumer comfort, nearly half of the respondents (47%) stated that they are at ease interacting with well-tested AI services offered by businesses. Looking to the future, around 64% of the participants predicted that most major departments within organizations would rely on AI and automation within the next decade.

The lack of trust in AI in other fields  

Although consumers express an interest in utilizing AI for customer engagement, 71% of them still prefer interacting with human beings rather than AI. When it comes to critical decisions, such as granting a bank loan, 68% of respondents trust a human bank employee's objectivity and impartiality more than an AI solution. Similarly, 74% stated that they would rely on a medical diagnosis from a human doctor rather than an AI system, even if the AI system had a better track record but could not explain its decision-making process. While 51% of participants believe that an autonomous car can make more ethical decisions in avoiding car crashes, 65% agreed that AI should not have the authority to override a human driver's decision in such situations.

The study revealed that 86% of respondents believe that AI has the potential to develop amorality, with 27% stating that they believe this has already occurred. Additionally, nearly half of the participants (48%) expressed the belief that generative AI will eventually achieve sentience or self-awareness. Concerns about AI enslaving humanity were expressed by 30% of the respondents, showing a slight increase compared to a similar study conducted in 2019, where 27% shared the same concern. Only a small percentage (16%) indicated having no worries about AI whatsoever.

Respondents also expressed a growing awareness regarding the prevalence of AI in everyday life. More than half of the participants (55%) believe that AI is responsible for producing over half of the photos and videos they consume. However, concerns are arising regarding the challenge of distinguishing between real and fake content. Most respondents expressed difficulty in determining whether the content was generated by humans or AI. Approximately 63% stated that they couldn't tell if an AI or a human created a long-form article, while similar numbers reported the same difficulty with photos (59%) and videos (58%). Additionally, over half of the participants (56%) found it challenging to discern if AI had generated the TV reports they watched.