Half of Tech Industry Workers Think AI Is Overrated

An image to illustrate the overrated nature of ai

The hype around artificial intelligence has reached deafening proportions. Governments around the world are trying to reign it in while companies are foaming at the mouth to get a toe onto the bandwagon. And yet, according to those who are most in the know, AI is overrated.

New data in a survey from US business software platform Retool shows that a majority of tech workers in the US think that AI technology isn’t worth getting excited over. At least, not right now.

A sample of 1,500 software engineers, business leaders, executives, product designers and more were surveyed for Retool’s ‘State of AI’ 2023 report. It found that 51.6% believe AI is overrated while around a quarter each believe the technology is underrated or rated about right.

An image of a survey from retool that claims tech workers think AI is overrated
Image: Retool

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was people at the top of the company hierarchies who were most excited about the technology. VPs and C-suite bosses appear to believe that AI has a lot to offer while those closer to actual implementation of it seem to think it’s overhyped.

That said, almost everyone is using AI at present, with only 11.6% of respondents saying that they don’t use it in any capacity. At the moment, many of the issues leading to people believing the tech doesn’t live up to expectations stem from present pain points in its use. Nearly 40% of people surveyed said that AI models are inaccurate while a third believe that there are data security issues with it. Workers also report issues with AI ‘hallucinations’ — ie, the AI just making stuff up — as well as the associated costs and the speed at which the technology actually works.

What is clear from the data however is that more and more companies are gearing up to integrate AI into their businesses, despite these misgivings. The largest group of respondents said that their companies were still toying with AI, trying to figure out use cases and 96.5% said that AI offered at least some degree of usefulness.

As to why companies are getting in on the hype, even if they think it may be unjustified, many are seeking to cut costs. Nearly 40% of respondents said their company was motivated by cost-savings in adopting AI, which doesn’t bode well for human employment. Less than 5% of respondents thought the rise of AI wouldn’t affect their role or their industry very much, with the vast majority believing it would have some or a total impact.

An image of a survey from retool that claims tech workers think AI is overrated
Image: Retool

Partly, many seem to be using AI purely because everyone else is. The second largest answer to motivation for adoption of the tech was simply to ‘keep up with trends’ while a further 31.1% said they were using it to ‘keep up with competitors’. Developer encouragement and employees genuinely requesting AI tooling were some of the lowest motivations, at 27% and 25% respectively.

Overall, the report argues that AI adoption is still very much in its infancy and, with the interest still keen, it’s unlikely we’ll see that fall off in the coming year.

“It’s clear that whether they’re bullish, bearish, or just going with the flow, tech folks across industries and roles are thinking earnestly about the possibilities and implications of AI technologies and how they’ll shape many facets of the future,” the report reads.

“In our view, this dynamic chapter is only the beginning”.

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