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Belgian workers are ‘AI-optimists’, survey reveals

Belgians are “AI-optimists”, according to the results of a survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Ipsos. More than any of the neighbouring countries, Belgians are using AI at work, as well as having a more positive perception of AI.

Together with Ipsos, BCG conducted market research into the state of the art regarding AI in our country. Apparently, over one out of two Belgians (54%) are already facing the introduction of AI or robots in the workplace now or in the two years to come. That is more than our neighbouring countries France (44%), Germany (45%) or the UK (47%).

Almost a quarter of Belgian workers (24%) already uses AI-based applications at work – a percentage that is equally above the ones in France (16%), Germany (15%) or the UK (20%).

Stefan Dab, managing partner at BCG Brussels, said, “These results are encouraging – even if the numbers remain low. They show how Belgian companies have taken a head start, enabling them to seize pole position in Europe when it comes to leveraging the advantages offered by AI and robotization.”

The results of the survey paint a mixed picture. On the one hand, AI is already present in companies: 24% indicates that AI is already being used in their organization – regardless of gender, age or function level.

Because it also shows a more subjective perception of AI: Belgian employees remain doubtful in the face of the changes brought by this new technology. Two out of three Belgians are curious about the possibilities of artificial intelligence, yet one out of two mention worries about possible consequences. Almost three out of 10 Belgians believe that the breakthrough of AI will have nothing but positive consequences

Dab commented, “The survey results on perception reflect the mixed feelings of Belgian employees. As we are talking about a new phenomenon, this is not entirely surprising. Our main takeaway should be that we should work to increase knowledge of artificial intelligence in Belgium, for example by increasing publicity and making positive use cases more visible.”

Among those working already with AI, the benefits are well known. More than six out of 10 employees working with AI (62%) experience a positive effect on their effectiveness at work. At the same time, a similar number (60%) indicated that they obtained better results thanks to AI. A little over half (55%) pointed to AI as a means to better organize their work.

Above percentages showed no differences based on gender, age or function level. Consequently, there is no basis to conclude there would be anything like an “AI gap” between groups.

When asked about the positive effects for their company or organization, almost seven out of 10 employees (68%) indicated they expected AI to lead to increased business growth.

An equally striking number is that over half (53%) of the surveyed believes that AI won’t negatively impact their own job security. At the same time, seven out of 10 (70%) do not believe that the decreased workload will eventually lead to loss of jobs.

Belgians also see risks such as increased inequality between privileged and underprivileged groups. At the same time, 25% believe that discrimination between men and women will decrease thanks to AI.

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