Artificial Intelligence (AI) is viewed as the most disruptive technology among businesses, but some scepticism of the technology remains, according to a new GlobalData survey.

The Thematic Intelligence: Tech Sentiment Polls Q4 2023 survey, carried out across GlobalData’s network of B2B websites, found that 78% of respondents believe that AI will cause either “significant disruption” or “slight disruption” in the future, with 54% of respondents noting that they were already experiencing the impacts of the technology.

AI is followed by cybersecurity and robotics in terms of how disruptive businesses view the technologies as being, leaving augmented reality (AR) and the metaverse lagging.

Looking forward, 13% believe that AI will disrupt their industry in the next 12 months, while a further 14% feel the disruption will become evident within one to four years. Only 8% believe that AI will “never” cause disruption.

Scepticism about AI technologies

Despite the overall tone of confidence around AI, there is still lingering scepticism. 40% of respondents feel that “the technology is hyped”, although most could “see a use for it”. The results note that “there will likely be some scepticism surrounding AI’s capabilities until the full impact of generative AI on productivity is better understood.”

How much of the following technologies is hype and how much is substance?
How much of the following technologies is hype and how much is substance?

The hesitation is partly because of uncertainties to do with regulation, as well as concerns about reliability. While the technology has experienced rapid evolution and adoption, regulation has lagged, leaving businesses concerned about potential vulnerabilities and pitfalls.

Europe’s AI Act will represent the first significant move towards restriction and management, classifying, banning and limiting AI systems according to their risk level. The act will ban the real-time use of biometric analysis via sensitive characteristics in public spaces (with an exception for law enforcement) and will establish requirements for human oversight of computer models and actions.

Yet, despite the pending introduction of regulation, AI currently remains the wild west of the technology sector. In its Enterprise Predictions report for this year, GlobalData suggests that “2024 will see a high-profile case of a big corporation or government involved in a scandal as a direct result of deploying AI applications.” Specifically, it warns against “the potential for misinformation, toxicity, bias, copyright infringements and privacy breaches.”

Copyright concerns have already made it to the courtroom, with the New York Times recently suing OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, contending that its articles were used to train chatbots that now compete as a news outlet.

These concerns, along with consumer reluctance, have seen creative and artistic outlets positioned amongst the more reluctant adopters; however, with the AI market forecast to be worth $909bn by 2030, the technology looks set to transform businesses across even the most cautious of industries.

Confidence in other technologies

Aside from AI, the GlobalData survey also identifies cybersecurity and robotics as technology themes that respondents expect to be disruptive. 47% believe that cybersecurity is already causing “significant disruption”, a sentiment that 39% share for robotics.

Robotics is the technology that respondents are most optimistic will “live up to all its promises”, with 72% of respondents indicating as much. Cybersecurity is not far behind, with 71% of respondents believing that the hype around it is worthwhile. Cloud computing follows with 69%.

However, 46% do not consider the metaverse to be a disruptive technology. The results suggest that “a lack of tangible use cases and a limited understanding of the technology have contributed to the current metaverse winter.”

This is accompanied by general pessimism towards AR, which 25% of respondents feel will “never” disrupt their industry. The scepticism has likely been catalysed by the abandonment of AR projects by some major tech companies, including Google, which abandoned its project Iris in 2023.