Students are adopting generative artificial intelligence at a much faster pace than employees, signalling that businesses may not be ready for the potential $600 billion economic disruption the technology is expected to cause, according to a new report.
Generative AI, which has the scope to produce a variety of data, from images, videos, audio, text, and 3D models, is being rapidly adopted by 58 per cent of students, according to the report compiled by Deloitte Access Economics and the Deloitte AI Institute.
This is almost twice the rate of employees, for whom 32 per cent use some form of Gen AI for work purposes. The take-up has been hampered with most of them (75 per cent) concerned about the technology’s use of personal, confidential or sensitive information.
In another sign of the contentious nature of the technology in industry, about two-thirds of employees currently using Gen AI believe their manager doesn’t know about it.
The Deloitte report, titled Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come!, estimates that more than a quarter of the Australian economy will be ‘rapidly and significantly’ disrupted by Gen AI, indicating that almost $600 billion of economic activity faces disruption from the technology.
“Leaders like me need to accept that this technology is real and recognise that our role is to harness and guide the responsible application of generative AI, rather than turning a blind eye or resisting change by banning its use,” says Deloitte Australia CEO Adam Powick.
“We need to rapidly educate ourselves on the potential and implications of generative AI in our settings and actively encourage adoption, innovation and the sharing of ideas and concepts across our organisations.”
The report reached its findings through economic research and a survey of 2,550 people comprising 2,000 current employees from across 18 industries, as well as 550 students.
The survey reveals that Australia ranks second-last out of 14 leading economies on its deployment of Gen AI. It also says the industries that are most likely to be disrupted by Gen AI include finance, ICT and media, professional services, education and wholesale trade.
Deloitte Access Economics’ lead technology partner John O’Mahony says the adoption of Gen AI by more than half the students surveyed is a clear sign that businesses need to prepare for the AI revolution.
“It speaks volumes – businesses need to prepare for this new generation of AI users; tech-savvy young people who are using Gen AI regularly to study, live and work better,” O’Mahony says.
“They will no doubt change the way work gets done and test how emerging technology can transform businesses from within.”
The report has found that only 9.5 per cent of large Australian businesses, those employing more than 200, have officially adopted AI in their business. However, as a percentage of all Australian businesses, this statistic drops to 1.4 per cent.
“Individuals naturally embrace tech faster than business – but Gen AI has seen this happen faster than ever before, broadening the gap between a business and its workforce,” says Dr Kellie Nuttall, the Deloitte AI Institute lead.
“Yes, this leads to a disruptive threat; but it leads to an even bigger opportunity. Let’s not forget businesses are made up of lots of individuals, each with the power to disrupt.”
The report reveals that businesses now have access to more than 3,000 Gen AI tools, with Australian businesses expected to grow their current spend on the technology seven-fold by 2030 as the number of daily users doubles over the next five years.
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