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Survey Reveals 75% Not Aware of Scope of New Landmark Proposed EU Legislation on Artificial Intelligence


Over 75% of directors/senior executives surveyed are not aware of the extensive scope of the proposed landmark EU legislation on AI which is the first comprehensive set of regulations for the industry[1], while more than half do not have a board-approved AI and cyber security strategy in place, a new survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) Ireland has revealed.

Only 27% of respondents felt that the AI decision-making process is protected against unintentional biases, the survey also revealed. Of those who use AI, 71% reported that they use it to enhance operational efficiency within their organisation, while over 60% of Irish directors/senior executives still do not use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in any way in their organisations. 

The new survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland, the leading national membership body for directors and business leaders, assesses the adoption of AI technologies, industry sentiment and the attitude towards AI as a business tool among its members.

Among the key findings revealed by the survey are:

  1. Current utilisation of AI: 41% of respondents reported that their organisations are not yet using AI but that they are planning to explore the concept in the future, while 19% have no plans to explore the use of AI.
  2. Board-approved IT Strategy including AI and cyber security: 53% of respondents do not have such a strategy in place, while 6% were not aware whether their company had such a strategy in place.
  3. Use of AI in business: Of those respondents whose organisations use AI, 71% of directors reported that they use it to enhance operational efficiency within their organisations, 34% use it for development of insights to support product/service development while 38% replied that they use it for customer engagement.
  4. EU Regulation on AI: A significant majority (75%) of survey participants were not aware of the scope of the EU’s draft Artificial Intelligence Act, and 45% of these had no opinion as to whether the proposed regulatory framework is pitched at the right level to deal with the risks and opportunities associated with AI. Of the 24% who are aware of the Act, only 7% strongly agree that the proposed regulatory framework is satisfactory.
  5. Protection against unintentional biases: Of those surveyed, just 27% of respondents agreed with the statement 'The steps in creating the AI decision-making process are protected against unintentional biases' whereas 34% could neither agree nor disagree.
  6. Challenges and Concerns: 62% of respondents ranked data privacy and security as areas of most significant risk from the use of AI. Additionally, 58% of those surveyed pinpointed ethical use as a risk in deploying AI within their company/organisation.

Speaking about the survey findings, IoD Ireland Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Spillane CDir, said:

“The results of this survey underscore the transformative potential of AI across business in Ireland, but also the desire on the part of our members for an AI framework that supports its safe and reliable use in every-day business to drive performance. We are encouraged to see such a high level of interest and engagement from our members on this issue.

There is a clear desire emanating from the respondents in this survey to learn more about this technology and how it will affect Irish business in the future, but also the ethical consequences that must be considered when adopting this technology. IoD Ireland will be using this new research to tailor guidance, education and learning with the aim of supporting the integration of best-in-class AI governance into the overall governance architecture of companies.”

The directors surveyed are from a wide range of businesses including State or semi-State bodies, not-for-profit organisations, private sector SMEs and plc/multinationals.

[1] In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI. On 14 June 2023, MEPs adopted Parliaments negotiating position on the AI Act. The talks will now begin with EU countries in the Council on the final form of the law.