We are entering the age of maturity. An era when people are becoming increasingly aware of their ‘addiction’ to technology and the consequences it has in their lives.
In February 2017, we fielded a study to survey 12,169 men and women aged 18+ in 32 markets: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Who Are Prosumers ?
Prosumers are today’s leading influencers and market drivers - they’ve been the focus of Havas and BETC studies for more almost 15 years. Beyond their own economic impact, Prosumers are important because they influence the brand choices and consumption behaviors of others. What Prosumers are doing today, mainstream consumers will likely be doing 6 to 18 months from now.
27% of Prosumers globally agree that they are a ‘slave’ to their smartphones, 49% check their phones when they wake up in the middle of the night and 73% always keep their smartphone within reach except for when they are charging. At the same time, 66% agree that modern technology is weakening human bonds. In other words, we are ‘slaves’ with an opinion. As we get more ‘mature’, fascination with technology is not enough. Tech moguls are expected to take upon their responsibilities over fake news, the spread of divisions, and take into consideration our growing concerns over privacy.
I. UNITED OR DIVIDED WE STAND?
There is no question that the majority of people today use social media on a daily basis and those few who do not, will soon be as Silicon Valley envisions a fully connected world within the next decade. The strength of social media on a collective level is unquestionable as we’ve seen from the 2012 Arab Spring to the #blacklivesmatter and #metoo movements in 2017. In fact, 71% of Prosumers globally agree that social media empowers them to support causes they care about and 78% agree that social media allows ordinary people to come together, influence each other and be a driver of change.
However, what unites us today, also divides us: 42% of Prosumers agree that in the past social media brought people together, but today it divides them. What meant to open our horizons has enclosed us in small bubbles of our own making and by now, people are aware of it: 42% of Prosumers globally agree that social media confirms their own opinions rather than challenging them. This is troubling as more people use social media as their main source of news (52% of Prosumers agree). So with this rising realization we begin questioning: 41% of Prosumers globally agree that social media is reducing our ability to think critically.
Where do we go from here? We probably won’t abandon the interwebs, but maybe we will move toward peer community platforms like Reddit, where we can find opposing opinions. We may move back to traditional media as the recent rise in NYT subscription indicated. Or are we inevitably heading toward a future taken out of Black Mirror, where our lives will matter in terms of the rating we receive? 21% of Prosumers globally, 39% of US Millennials and 41% of UK Millennials get depressed about their own lives when they look at other people’s lives on social media. In addition, 29% of Prosumers globally, 40% of US Millennials and 23% of UK Millennials say they prefer the person they are on social media.
II. DATA CREEP & THE END OF PRIVACY
When it comes to the positive side of data what people retain is the convenience and piece of mind its capabilities bring into our lives. It’s telling that 80% of Prosumers would like to be able to geo-locate their kids at any time through their phones. Another 46% would like their refrigerators to automatically order products they run out of and have them delivered to their doors. In our busy lives, convenience is king. However, when private companies are involved people start questioning: only 33% of Prosumers would like companies to be able to predict what they will need to buy and send it directly to their homes. When it comes to privacy the recipe is simple: don’t get too personal. While we’d like to be the ones to control the movement of our kids, it’s not the same when it comes to ‘me’: only 38% of Prosumers would like friends & family to always be able to find out where they are at any moment through their phones.
Concerns rise over the popularity of connected-devices: 78% of Prosumers worry that Internet-connected devices will be used for unlawful surveillance and 78% worry that these devices will be hacked and cause harm to individuals/communities. This further enhances mistrust toward companies: 80% of Prosumers globally worry that they don’t know what companies are doing with their data/information.
We can’t help at wonder what comes next. People realize that in the future it will be futile to try and save our privacy: 68% of Prosumers globally agree that in the future non of us will be able to keep our private data secure. The sense that maintaining our privacy will become a luxury is also invigorated: 71% of Prosumers believe that maintaining our privacy/data will be expensive.
III. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: OUR NEW LIFE PARTNER?
What do people think the future hold for AI and humanity? Artificial Intelligence could be the hero of tomorrow: 56% of Millennials globally agree that AI will be good for society. Agreement levels rise in China (89% of Millennials) and India (76%). For the most part globally, the benefits of AI outweigh the threats: 48% Prosumers think AI will help society progress versus only 22% who think AI will take over and control society. However, there are still plenty of pertaining tensions and cultural differences:
Tension #1 – Liberation may lead to laziness
While 47% of Prosumers agree that in the future AI will liberate us from repetitive tasks and give us more time to enjoy life, this liberation may come at a price: 61% agree that when AI and robots are fully embedded in our lives, they worry that humans are going to become lazy and idle. Another 56% fear that humans will lose our ability to solve problems on our own.
Tension #2 – Who is the biggest threat to humanity? Robots or Humans?
While Elon Mask and Stephen Hawking have warned us over killer robots, this is not a scenario that resonates with people: only 22% fear that AI will take over and control human society. On the contrary, suspicions and lack of trust focus mostly on human intentions: 44% of Prosumers worry that when AI and robots are fully embedded in our lives, humans are going to use robots to wage war and ultimately destroy the planet and another 33% worry humans will use robots to take control and enslave much of humanity.
Tension #3 – A job lost is a job gained. Except for when it’s not
People are conflicted on the issue of jobs: 39% of Prosumers think AI will take away jobs and leave millions of people unemployed but a 37% also believes that AI will create new jobs that we cannot even imagine today. The tension widens when we look by country: in innovation-oriented China, 59% think AI will create new jobs versus only 20% who think it will destroy jobs. However, in France more people agree AI will take jobs away (41% Prosumers) versus 34% who see AI as a job creator.
Tension #4 – AI is good but humans are still wanted
People are not yet comfortable with the idea of machines performing traditional professions. People see number-based professions like financial advisors, scientists and teachers as more plausible to be conducted by machines. However, emotion or justice based professions like journalists, lawyers, judges or even doctors are not professions that can be automated yet. However, China is once again leading the way to innovation: 63% of Chinese would be ok with a robot as a financial advisor, 47% as a doctor and 32% as a lawyer. But in the UK only 18% of Prosumers would be ok with a robotic financial advisor, 10% with a robotic doctor and 8% with a robotic lawyer.
What about robots as real life partners? 41% of Millennials agree that robots will someday be so lifelike that we won’t be able to distinguish them from humans. For now, scenarios of robot/human love do not seem likely since only 12% of Millennials believe they can be in a romantic relationship with a robot. However, it could be in the future: 24% of Millennials globally think that in the future it will be normal for human and robots to develop deep friendships and even romantic relationships. It’s telling that in China the number rises to 54% and in France drops at 17%. However, the day the perfect robot enters our lives, people have a few concerns: 33% of Prosumers globally worry that humans are going to lose our ability to accept imperfections in people and 26% worry we are going to lose our ability to accept contradictory opinions.