News Jan 16, 2024 10:50 AM EST

AI & Climate Anxiety Rises: 6% More CEOs See Bleak 10-Year Outlook

By April Fowell

According to a new survey of CEOs by one of the biggest consulting firms in the world, PwC, more executives are feeling better about the state of the global economy, but an increasing number believe their companies won't survive the next ten years without a major overhaul due to pressure from climate change and technology like artificial intelligence.

As corporate titans, political figures, and activists flocked to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum's annual conference, a poll of over 4,700 CEOs worldwide was revealed on Monday. The results painted a mixed picture of what lies ahead.

AI & Climate Anxiety Rises: 6% More CEOs See Bleak 10-Year Outlook

(Photo : by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
According to a new survey of CEOs by one of the biggest consulting firms in the world, PwC, more executives are feeling better about the state of the global economy, but an increasing number believe their companies won't survive the next ten years without a major overhaul due to pressure from climate change and technology like artificial intelligence.

Executive confidence in the health of the economy increased to 38% from 18% the previous year, when the world was beset by high inflation, sluggish growth, increasing interest rates, and other issues.

According to the PwC Global CEO Survey, CEOs' expectations of an economic downturn have decreased to 45% from a record-high 73% last year. Additionally, fewer CEOs believed that their organization was significantly exposed to the risk of geopolitical war. That is in spite of the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, as well as the interruptions to international trade caused by the Houthi rebels of Yemen's attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea.

Despite the better economic outlook, the challenge is far from done. The World Bank stated last week that it anticipates a third straight year of global economic slowdown in 2024.

In the meantime, the CEOs' outlook for their firms' capacity to withstand significant changes grew more pessimistic. According to the study, 45% of participants, up from 39% the previous year, were concerned that their companies wouldn't be sustainable in ten years without innovation.

The CEOs claim that while they are working to bring about reforms, they are encountering obstacles such as regulations, a shortage of skilled labor, and more.

Read Also: Wall Street Slump Sparks Rush for Stability After 2023 Boom

The Impact of AI

Artificial intelligence was viewed as both a strength and a means of streamlining corporate processes. The way their organization produces, distributes, and captures value in the next three years will change considerably, according to nearly three-quarters of the CEOs, according to PwC.

While 69% of the CEOs stated that their staff needed training to acquire the necessary skills to exploit the emerging technology, more than half of them claimed AI will improve their goods or services. They were also worried about how AI will lead to more false information and cybersecurity threats.

The world's biggest short-term threat, according to Davos organizers, is artificial intelligence (AI)-driven disinformation, such as the production of synthetic material. They issued this warning last week.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey conducted by public relations firm Edelman around Davos, innovation is being poorly managed and is escalating polarization, particularly in Western democracies where individuals with conservative views are far more inclined to oppose innovation than those with liberal views.

Over 32,000 people from 28 nations participated in the online poll, which was conducted from November 3 to November 22. The results once again demonstrated that the business sector is the most trusted institution among the government, media, science, and nonprofit groups.

The PwC poll indicates that, like AI, there are risks and opportunities associated with the climate transformation. Over the next three years, a growing percentage of CEOs, nearly a third, say they anticipate changes in their operations due to climate change.

Related Article: Fed Pivot Calms Junk Bond Jitters, But Concerns Remain Over Debt Sustainability


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