Gen Z untroubled by prospect of AI

Today's teens have a more mature attitude to automation than their elders
(Image: Stockfresh)

4 December 2018

Niall Kitson portraitThere’s nothing like a bit of demography to make you feel old. As if we haven’t heard enough about millennials a new report from Dell is looking at the inner lives of Generation Z – those born around the year 1996.

According to a survey of 12,000 secondary school and college students in 17 countries, 91% of respondents said their choice of employer would be influenced by the kind of technology they would be working with. While only 38% said they are specifically interested in an IT career, 46% expressed an interest in some kind of research and development role. Here’s a particular stat that stood out for me: 80% said technology and automation would create a more equitable environment by preventing bias and discrimination.

It seems that younger people have little fear of AI doing away with jobs, believing that advances in automation will deliver better tools for doing their jobs. No visions of a Terminator-style dystopia here, only a sense that humans and machines will work better together than in opposition.

This mature perspective is something I’ve come across from academics and experts in AI but to see it gain traction among a new generation of digital native shows an impressive degree of maturity. That young people are dealing with this question at all is testament to how quickly the debate is evolving. My generation was much more interested in debating the benefits of single coil over humbucker guitar pickups. That’s never going to be settled. I’m ok with that.

Quora, why?
There’s no better way to start the day than with a breach notification. This morning it was the turn of questions and answers social network Quora to remind me that a) I had an account and b) I should be more ruthless in managing my digital footprint.

According to an e-mail statement, the site suffered a breach last Friday where an unauthorised third party gained access to “some” usernames, e-mail addresses, IP addresses, account settings, personalised data and site interactions and data imported from external networks. Basically if you’ve been affected there’s a chance your e-mail address is being bought and sold as part of a large data set on the Dark Web right now.

Quora says the leaked passwords were hashed and salted so if you’ve recycled your details across multiple sites you’ve got some time to change yours. Plenty of questions to be asked there.

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