South Africans search all things AI

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 15 Feb 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the top technology that South Africans want to know more about, based on the latest Google Search trends.

Google reveals that AI was searched more than ever in 2022 in the country and around the world, with South Africans searching for the term 90% more than in 2021.

The search trends in SA for AI continued to peak in January, with searches for ‘AI generator’, ‘AI art’, ‘what is AI’ and ‘google AI’ all increasing by over 5 000%.

Matt Brittin, president of Google Africa, Middle East and Europe, says: “It’s great to see people in SA showing more of an interest in the transformational technology that is AI.

“AI is already a key part of many of our lives − in fact, if you use Google tools regularly, you’re probably using AI without even realising: it’s what helps Maps give you the fastest or most fuel-efficient route, or Search to find what you’re looking for.

“We’re continuing to pursue AI boldly and responsibly − creating tools that improve the lives of as many people as possible.”

For its Google Search trends data, the search engine measured various trends on its platform from January 2022 to January 2023.

In addition to AI, local web users turned to Google for advice on cyber security and online privacy, to learn new digital skills and grow their career, as well as to understand environmentalism and sustainability.

Google says the search for ‘computer security’ was the top form of security searched worldwide in 2022, while ‘cyber crime’ was searched at record levels around the world.

In the case of South Africans, search interest in terms like internet safety and computer security increased by 70% last year.

“South Africans particularly searched for ‘rogue security software’ (+240%), ‘SMS phishing’ (+210%) and ‘e-mail spoofing’ (+200%).”

The company further reveals that searches for ‘private browsing’ and ‘one-time password’ reached record levels of search interest in 2022, while searches for ‘password manager’ increased by 150%.

As to upskilling, Google indicates searches for ‘cyber security courses’ increased by 240%, while ‘digital market courses’ increased by 90%.

“People also turned to Google to prepare for job interviews and find new opportunities: with searches for ‘how to introduce yourself in interview’ increasing by 350%, ‘how to write a CV in South Africa’ increasing by 220%, and ‘how to negotiate a salary offer’ increasing by 190%.”

In SA, searches for ‘environmentalism’ rose by 460%, ‘green growth’ by 270% and ‘energy transition’ by 150%. Topics including green washing, solar power, carbon neutrality and electric vehicles also reached record high levels of search interest.

“Environmental disasters were also searched more than ever across the world − with South Africans searching for ‘flood’ (+180%) and ‘drought’ more than ever before.”