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Google reveals SA interest in AI spiked to 650% over past five years



91% of South Africa thinks life with AI will look different five years from now.

New research by Google has revealed South Africans are taking a keen interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaching an all-time high last year in the country.

The research shows that search interest in AI increased by 370% over the last year and 650% over the last five years,

It also revealed that 91% of South Africa thinks life with AI will look different five years from now.

The trends data, released on Wednesday, compliments Google’s new AI global survey, Our Life with AI: The reality of today and the promise of tomorrow.

Matt Brittin, President of Google Europe, the Middle East and Africa said it’s overwhelming to see South Africans showing such a keen interest in the potential of AI as a transformative technology.

“People across the world are benefitting from responsibly developed AI tools every day – but it’s important that we get this right. We’re committed to working boldly, responsibly and together with governments across Europe to maximise the potential of AI, make sure everyone can benefit from it, and minimise its abuse.”

ALSO READ: WATCH: Google using AI to tackle food insecurity, weather and floods

Top searches on AI

Top searched questions included “what is artificial intelligence” and “how to use AI,” while searches for “what is the current situation of AI” and “what is generative AI” increased by more than 5,000%.

Respondents from South Africa also reported that AI was already having an impact on the way we access information (81%), learn (78%) and work (72%). 60% of South African respondents were excited about the possibilities of AI.

AI impact

Asked where AI will most likely have a positive impact in the next five years, South African respondents chose the accuracy of medical diagnoses and the effectiveness of the school curriculum (both 73%). 82% felt AI will have a positive impact on their ability to understand complex topics, while 79% think it will benefit the way they learn.

South Africans felt that AI would benefit society as a whole (76%) and people like them (69%). 63% felt that South Africa will be able to harness the potential of AI over the next five years. 95% felt that AI will change most jobs and industries over the next five years – while 83% predicted that it will change the economy.

World benefits

When asked which institutions they have confidence in to oversee the development of AI in the best interests of the public, South Africa favoured technology companies (90%) and academic institutions (85%) over the government (50%) and armed forces (61%).

However, their preferred approach was collaborative: 91% of respondents felt that the government and technology companies should work together to educate students and workers about AI.

Google’s AI is already delivering real world benefits.

The AlphaFold, which has been made available to millions of researchers across the world, is helping scientists to understand and cure diseases and fight antibiotic resistance. Meanwhile, FloodHub helps to predict floods up to seven days in advance for more than 80 countries.

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