CARY – People have become more “optimistic” about AI over the last year, according to a new MetLife survey.

The survey was conducted in August 2023, distributed to 2,000 women and men in the US workforce.

Only 15% of employees surveyed said they were not willing to engage with AI, and 51% said they would be interested in learning to develop new tools & technologies.

Bill Pappas, head of Global Technology and Operations at MetLife, told TechWire that AI has reached “a critical inflection point” not just in our workplaces but in our society at large.

MetLife Triangle Tech X Survey

“We’re seeing more interest and excitement from all employees around the power and possibilities of AI, but it’s up to employers to now convert this optimism into action,” said Pappas.

MetLife’s Global Technology Hub in Cary, NC, has 2,600 employees. The hub recently hosted its fifth annual Triangle Tech X conference to address the need for more women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

The virtual conference, which has more than 3,500 attendees from 20 different countries, featured a star-studded lineup, with speakers like America Ferrera, star of the “Barbie” movie, and Kate Crawford, named TIME100’s most influential AI thought leader.

Pappas called the conference a time “to move from ideas into action.”

“There’s a tremendous opportunity here for organizations to empower their employees in this new AI era—and it’s for this reason we are again convening top industry leaders and newsmakers at our annual conference to ensure they will begin actioning these solutions responsibly for a more innovative and equitable workplace,” said Pappas before the conference.

Survey data related to women in STEM

The survey methodology included a “focus” on women in STEM. Overall, results showed that women in STEM are optimistic about AI.

In the survey, 42% of women in STEM said they have become more optimistic about AI over the past year, and 51% said they see AI as having the potential to positively impact the workforce.

And nearly 8 in 10 women in STEM (79%) said they are willing to work with AI technologies.

Pappas said that AI brings opportunities—including the chance to bring more groups into tech careers.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity here for organizations to empower their employees in this new AI era—and in so doing, create a more innovative and equitable workplace,” said Pappas.