Artificial Intelligence is here, and it’s here to stay. What many people don’t realize is that they’ve already been using AI for years. If you’ve ever asked Siri or Alexa for anything, used a chatbot on a website or asked Waze or Google Maps for directions, you’ve probably used AI.
Although, generative AI is what’s recently grabbed everyone’s attention.
Generative AI is a system that generates content, whether it be text, images or video in response to a prompt from someone.
Generative AI has made the power of artificial intelligence the most accessible it’s ever been. Anyone can go to OpenAI, create a free ChatGPT account and ask AI for almost anything–and statistics have shown that they do.
A recent study conducted by Picnic, a social media platform for Gen-Z to explore, create, and engage with online communities, called The AI Pulse of Gen-Z: Gen-Z’s Unfiltered Truth About AI looks at how artificial intelligence integrates itself into the lives of Generation Z, the group born between 1995 and 2012.
Surveying nearly 2,500 participants, ages 13-18, the results found that Gen-Z can’t be pigeonholed into a single opinion regarding AI. Let’s take a look at the multifaceted views Gen-Z has on the role of AI in our society.
Awareness of AI
With rapid technological advancement, each new generation will continue becoming more and more tech-savvy. Gen-Z has grown up experiencing technological advances through computers, phones, TVs, etc., so the survey findings around Gen-Z’s awareness of AI were no surprise. The survey indicates that almost 83%of respondents say they know what AI is and 78% say they previously used AI.
While older generations are playing catch-up with AI, Gen-Z is immersed in it. This puts them in a good position to leverage AI both personally and professionally.
We know Gen-Z is using AI, but how and where are they using it? Let’s look at some of the areas where Gen-Z is both noticing and utilizing AI
One facet the survey looked at was Gen-Z’s thoughts and feelings about using AI in mainstream education. The survey found that only 24% of respondents are using AI in school. This can be a double-edged sword because many people use AI as a research tool or as a cheating aid. Gen-Z is divided on how they feel about how AI is used in education. Roughly one third of respondents said they think using AI in school is cheating, another third disagreed, and the last third wasn’t sure.
Unlike in education, Gen-Z was far more accepting of the use of AI in the arts. Almost half of respondents said they wouldn’t think less of an artist who used AI in creating their material.
Fear of AI
One concern that Gen-Z shares with older generations is that AI may be used for purposes that aren’t beneficial to them. Roughly 45% are concerned that AI could adversely affect not only their own job prospects but that of their parents as well.
This is backed up by what we’ve seen in the real world. IBM recently announced that nearly 8,000 jobs could be replaced with AI and that they will implement that plan over the next several years. Emily Yuan, COO of Picnic, notes, “These hesitations highlight the need for comprehensive education, ethical guidelines, and transparent discussions surrounding AI to address Gen-Z’s concerns and empower them to navigate the AI landscape responsibly.”
Another worry expressed by 60% of the survey’s respondents is with the amount of data that AI collects. In order for AI to function, it requires an enormous amount of data. ChatGPT recently set a record for the fastest-growing user base. In January 2023, ChatGPT had 616 million visits and by June, it had 1.6 billion. ChatGPT remembers everything that its users type into it as well as everything it outputs.
While Gen-Z seems accepting of AI content creation overall, they appear to draw a line at AI using images and likenesses of individuals to impersonate them. More than half of respondents said they are concerned about AI being used to create explicit content using their likeness. 45% are worried about AI being used to impersonate them in general.
Gen-Z: Cautiously Optimistic about AI
The final analysis of the survey revealed that while Gen-Zers have concerns about AI’s impact, they also believe AI can have a positive effect on society and the world. Almost 88% said they think AI will likely be a world-changing technology (44.5% Yes, 43.4% Maybe), and almost 90% believe it could possibly benefit society (26.9% Yes, 62.4% Maybe).
Young adults seem to want to strike a balance between advocating for the technology’s use but also push for responsibility and accountability in its development. Gen-Z is in a perfect position to become the generation that drives this technology forward. Yuan punctuates this by noting, “Gen-Z’s perspectives, preferences, and ethical considerations will guide the ethical use of AI, drive innovation, and influence the design of AI systems that align with their values.”