UK millennials not convinced about AI in healthcare, especially for their own children

Millennial parents in the UK are not sold on the power of AI in healthcare, especially when it comes to their own children, a new survey looking at attitudes towards artificial intelligence has found.

According to The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional organisation, British millennial parents of Generation Alpha children (eight-years old or younger) are sceptical about the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare.

The “Generation AI 2018” survey is the second annual study of millennial parents of Generation Alpha children undertaken by the IEEE and looks at the attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence across five of the top 10 largest economies in the world including the UK, US, Brazil, India and China.

With millennials typically regarded as the most technology savvy adults and Generation Alpha viewed as a completely tech-infused generation, the survey illuminates a variety of attitudes towards AI across the nations. In the survey, emerging markets show much more openness and optimism regarding the power of AI than established, Western economies.

The survey found that UK millennial parents often ranked lowest in terms of openness and optimism regarding AI across the countries looked at. Less than a third (31%) of UK millennial parents would be open to their toddler or infant wearing a health tracker to help AI and machine learning give them a better understanding of their child’s health.

In comparison, 40% of Chinese parents and 38% of Brazilian parents would be open to using health trackers for their children at these ages. Interestingly, 34% of those surveyed in the UK would use a health tracker once their child reached 13, indicative of the growing British concern around teenagers’ health.

Considering the leaps that Artificial Intelligence has made in the past decade and knowing future advancements will be accelerated in the next decade, it was surprising to see that only 11% of UK millennial parents would completely trust AI technologies for their children’s diagnoses and treatments. Twenty-six percent  admitted they would have a great deal of trust, but this still falls far short of the trust emerging markets exhibited in AI with 80% of Indian parents and 75% of Chinese parents having complete or a great deal of trust in AI.

This level of scepticism in AI was highlighted further with more than half of UK millennial parents saying they were unlikely to allow a robot powered by AI to perform surgery on their child. In comparison, 82% of Chinese parents said they would be very likely to allow it.

The lack of trust in technology was highlighted further with 75% of UK respondents saying they would trust a doctor who based their recommendations on Artificial Intelligence, despite not trusting AI to decide autonomously. This trend demonstrates the nations’ willingness to harness technology as well as our reluctance become completely reliant on it; keeping humans within the decision making process is vital when it comes to health.

Millennial parents in the UK were not entirely sure of the potential of AI to make significant medical breakthroughs either. Thinking about the potential of Artificial Intelligence to eradicate cancer during their children’s lifetime, British respondents were split with just over half (51%) believing that is very likely to occur.

However, 49% felt it was not likely, the highest of all the countries surveyed. This compared with 85% of millennial parents in India felt AI would eradicate cancer in their children’s lifetime, while 70% of parents in Brazil felt the same.

However, millennial parents did see some areas where Artificial Intelligence could be beneficial. With concern increasing around the growing cost of elderly care, many young adults are now looking at being more self-sufficient and relying on their children less. Sixty-one percent of UK millennial parents stated they would prefer to rely on AI rather than their children in their old age, with 21% feeling strongly about not relying on their children.

Generation AI 2018: Second Annual Study of Millennial Parents of Generation Alpha Kids surveyed 2,000 parents, aged 20–36 years-old, with at least one child eight years old or younger: 400 each in the United States, United Kingdom, India, China and Brazil. The surveys were conducted May 17-23, 2018. 

To review the survey data and learn more about how health and medical-related artificial intelligence technologies are benefiting humanity, please visit the IEEE Transmitter website


Chris Price