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Professionals bullish on AI boosting productivity, Thomson Reuters report finds

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Professionals bullish on AI boosting productivity, Thomson Reuters report finds

Professionals view generative artificial intelligence (AI) as a means of boosting their productivity by augmenting workflows and are largely unconcerned about the large-scale replacement of jobs, according to a new report by Thomson Reuters.

The new report, which was released Tuesday, surveyed 1,200 professionals from around the world. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they expect AI will have a transformational or high impact on their professions over the next five years, in addition to creating new career paths in their fields along with more roles that don’t require traditional legal or tax qualifications.

“The overarching viewpoint was that AI was viewed as the most transformative trend in the industry for the next five years for professionals,” David Wong, chief product officer at Thomson Reuters, told FOX Business. “There are three dimensions to it: Number one was the impact on day-to-day work, so productivity; number two was in fact the business of work, so how value was attributed to professional work with this transformation; and then finally, regulation, safety and responsible deployment of AI.”

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A new report from Thomson Reuters finds that professionals are largely optimistic about the potential for AI to make work more efficient and allow them to focus on higher value tasks. (iStock / iStock)

A 45% plurality of professionals responded that AI will help them improve their overall productivity and efficiency at work, while 38% said that they believe it will help them free up time and mental bandwidth for higher-level tasks.

“It was very clear from the survey and the viewpoints from the respondents that in general, professionals view AI as an augmentation to work,” Wong explained.

“We looked at the respondents and asked if they were pessimists or optimists as it pertained to AI and across the board – whether you were a doomsayer and saying ‘all of our jobs are going to get changed’ versus optimists where ‘all of our jobs or going to be enhanced’ – in all those cases there was a viewpoint that AI would be an augmentation, it would be not a full-scale replacement for jobs, but instead was a tool to help enhance or replace tasks,” he added.

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Thomson Reuters’ survey of professionals about their views of AI found that two-thirds expect it to have a high or transformational impact on their profession. ((Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

Professionals’ biggest fear about AI within the survey had to do with compromised accuracy, with 25% expressing citing that as their primary concern. 

Generative AI tools like chatbots can sometimes respond to users’ queries with inaccurate information that’s conveyed with confidence – a phenomenon known as “hallucination.” Professionals expressed that they don’t yet trust the accuracy of AI tools’ outputs and worried that new challenges could arise if clients use AI for their own research when they’re unaware of its inaccurate or incomplete responses.

Other notable worries include the widespread loss of jobs (19%), the demise of professions altogether (17%), along with data security and AI contributing to a loss of ethics (15% each).

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Generative AI tools have raised concerns about their accuracy and impact on the workforce per the Thomson Reuters survey. ((Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

The Thomson Reuters survey also posed a playful question to respondents asking how they would describe their feelings if a time traveler from 10 years in the future told them that AI would become a ubiquitous tool in their profession. Professionals were given six humorous reactions to choose from, ranging from winning the lottery at the optimistic end of the spectrum to a zombie apocalypse or stepping on a rusty nail at the negative end. 

Overall, about six in 10 respondents were categorized as optimists – including 12% likening AI’s rise to winning the lottery, while four in 10 were pessimists with 9% comparing the pervasive use of AI in their industry to a zombie apocalypse. 

Wong said that optimists holding a majority over pessimists is “counter to what you sometimes would assume within professionals” because “the negative voices often are the most strong.” He added that the pessimists “are helping us to protect what is important within the industry.”

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In general, optimists were most concerned about the accuracy of AI tools and data security, while pessimists’ biggest fears included accuracy in addition to the loss of jobs and the demise of professions. 

“The importance of accuracy and trust came through very clearly from the pessimists, and I think that loss of jobs and demise of professions are probably not a likely short-term impact,” Wong said. “Job transformation over the next five to 10 years, by its nature, will shift jobs, create new jobs, will eliminate old jobs. And I think that’s just part of innovation – AI or not – that there is always change that happens in every industry.”

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