Exeter Business Leaders express views on AI

2 minute read

Robert Chalk

Members of The Exeter 50 group, have completed a survey devised by The Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies, into their beliefs around where the future lies in a world influenced by AI.

The Survey

Business leaders from The Exeter 50 group, have completed a survey devised by The Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies, into their beliefs around where the future lies in a world influenced by artificial intelligence.  The survey asked them to plot their views along a sliding scale of whether they see the world moving towards a more self-protective, nationalistic model of society in 5 years’ time or a more globalised, open society.

A decade ago, the world was leaning towards wanting to be more globalised in its thinking and ethos. Since then, society has reversed this trend to an extent and nationalism, self-protectionism and a more inward stance has been on the rise.

The business leaders were then asked to plot their views on whether they see artificial intelligence, again in 5 years’ time, as a friend helping fulfil tasks and making mundane actions in life easier, versus becoming a danger and threat to society, taking over jobs and leaving many unemployed.

The Results

On both scales, they were asked to plot where they would like the position to be in 5 years, then where they believe it will actually be.

There was a stark contrast.

The vast majority of 86% felt they would like to see a globalised society, where AI was a useful and helpful resource, aiding day-to-day life. In contrast, 71% felt the reality would be a more localized and nationalistic positioning, with AI being a foe. Most worryingly, 57% placed AI near to the extreme end of the scale, where it poses a threat to society and replaces multiple jobs.

The findings highlight the level of discomfort and fear over the direction AI is heading. 

The Future

When questioned more closely, the fear appears at its highest amongst those who understand AI or are even involved in its use or development. Fear such as the ever-increasing ability of AI to become adaptive, to learn and think independently, mixed with the integration with robotics, sees a potential future where AI outstrip its human ability and even thinking, the prospects of which if not managed, could be far reaching. The ultimate fear is that AI is gathering momentum at a pace that is already beyond control, and potentially it’s in the hands of those who would want to use it for the wrong reasons.

The Exeter 50 Group is a club formed several years ago by our MD – Robert Chalk, with the objective of meeting quarterly over dinner to discuss business matters in Exeter and the local region, share thinking, learnings and issues, and also act as a confidential support to each other. There are currently 32 members, all of whom are senior business leaders who either live or work in Exeter and the local vicinity.

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