Electronics of the future: 7,000 asked, "What do you want from AI?"

13 August 2018

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

81 percent of consumers all around the world would like 'electronic devices of the future' to make their lives easier, according to the electronica Trend Index 2018.

Users, however, have very different views on what AI, robotics, and digitalisation should and should not be allowed to do: 71 percent of global consumers think that electronic devices should only assist humans.

As mentioned, these are the findings of the electronica Trend Index 2018: 7,000 consumers in the USA, Asia and Europe were interviewed in a representative survey of the population by a market research institute on behalf of the world's leading trade fair and conference, electronica.

Navigation systems and smartphones have popularised smart voice control in private households. Manufacturers are working at full speed with AI and digital networking to build on the current success of smart electronics.

The concept of voice control is clearly popular among consumers: around 60 percent of consumers worldwide are in favour of electronic devices being able to engage in dialogue with humans in the future – along the lines of familiar voice-activated assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. Chinese (85 percent), US American (68 percent), and Italian (66 percent) consumers are particularly enthusiastic about being able to converse with electronic devices in the future. Meanwhile, 17 percent of consumers all around the world strongly object to the concept of talking electronics. 

What robots should and should not be able to do

There is a consensus amongst consumers that digital assistants should not be too 'human-like': in response to the question regarding how future service robots should behave, 72 percent are in favour of robots with AI remaining clearly recognisable as machines. The strongest advocates for this school of thought are Italians (78 percent), and US Americans (77 percent). However, even in Japan, which comparably has the lowest level of support, there is still a clear majority: 69 percent in favour.

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Robots should learn autonomously

By contrast, a global average of 72 percent of respondents are in favour of robots using AI to learn autonomously and respond to new situations. The same percentage would like robots to provide decision-making support, although control should never be relinquished by humans. 

This basic view generally applies to the use of AI in electronic devices: the large majority of consumers would like AI to only provide assistance and not replace human thought processes – and according to the latest survey, 71 percent of the world share this opinion. Despite this, the number of people adhering to this view is declining in some countries. According to the 2016 electronica Trend Index, 82 percent of Germany's respondents shared this view, compared to the current figure of just 67 percent.

On the other hand, opinions as to whether a machine should be able to recognise human feelings and react to them are divided. In Japan and European countries, only around half of respondents are in favour; meanwhile, in the USA this figure is just under 60 percent – but China has the most positive response at 85 percent. 

electronica 2018

Said Falk Senger, managing director of Messe München, who is also responsible for the world leading trade fair electronica: “As the electronica Trend Index shows, consumers all around the world are thinking long and hard about the electronics of the future. At electronica 2018, from November 13th to 16th in Munich, over 3,000 exhibitors from 50 countries will be demonstrating just how rapidly the world of smart electronics is developing.”

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