Why AI could cost businesses billions

More than a quarter of the Australian economy will be significantly disrupted by AI technologies, experts have warned, as businesses and workers remain hesitant of new advancements.

The report by consultancy firm Deloitte Australia found about $600 billion in economic activity stands be to be “rapidly and significantly” disrupted by new generative AI technology.

More than 2500 students and employees from 18 industries were surveyed on their use of AI as part of the report, including from the IT, media, education, and wholesale trade sectors.

Deloitte Australia CEO Adam Powick said business leaders needed to accept their role in “harnessing and guiding the responsible application of generative AI”, rather than turning a blind eye.

“We need to rapidly educate ourselves on the potential of AI in our settings, and actively encourage adoption, innovation and the sharing of ideas and concepts across our organisations,” he said.

The report also revealed the generational gap between large business, of which less than 10 per cent have officially adopted AI, and the 58 per cent of students already using it.

Students were almost twice as likely to use generative AI tools such as ChatGPT than employees, with only 1.4 per cent of all Australian businesses currently utilising AI officially.

Deloitte Australia Lead Strategy and Business Design Partner and AI Institute Lead Dr Kellie Nuttall said individuals naturally embrace advancements in tech faster than businesses.

“But, generative AI has seen this happen faster than ever before, broadening the gap between a business and its workforce,” Mr Nuttal said ahead of the reports release on Sunday.

“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.”

For many, the rapid advancement of AI technologies has presented concern about its place in the workforce, sparking protests such as the current SAG-AFTRA strike in the US.

The actors and screen writers guilds in the United States voted to strike earlier this year over pay issues and fears that AI technology could subsume or reduce workplace jobs.

The Deloitte report – titled “Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come!” – found about 75 per cent of employees were concerned about AI’s use, including with personal data.

Just over 30 per cent said they already used some form of generative AI for work purposes, of which about two thirds stating they believed their managers did not know about it.

Originally published as Almost twice as many students using AI than employees: report

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