Introduction: AI Natives Among Us

For the last few decades, the widely told story of AI has been one of fear and uncertainty.

This mindset has tempered conversations in boardrooms and newsrooms across the world.

But the lived experience of evolving AI has been a much different story. In step with AI developments, a new type of consumer has emerged who has a whole new perspective on AI. We call this consumer the AI native.

AI natives are poised to fundamentally change the rules of business for every industry. Businesses that truly understand this audience can determine whether their future leads to wild success or obscurity.

AI natives see AI as something much larger than just a technology. It’s a collaborative partner that can anticipate their needs and delight them in unexpected ways. It can
be trained to make their lives easier. It can signal whom to trust or buy from, who cares, and who’s committed to a better future.

In this new paradigm, AI and its related technologies are no longer a footnote. They’re quickly becoming one of the most powerful outward-facing status symbols a company can have.

Who is the AI Native?

Whereas digital natives were defined by an ability to navigate new digital environments, AI natives are defined by their ability to build relationships with the AI around them.

They have an intuitive understanding of the rules of AI and how to shape it for their needs. They co-create with AI and are willing to invest in it over time. AI natives see this technology not as an amenity but as a way of life. Without it, life quickly starts feeling less comfortable, less convenient, and less connected.

Consumers’ profound change in behaviors, values, and mindsets is moving the business benchmark from digital experiences to AI relationships. In this transition, many companies are already feeling the encroaching threat of irrelevance.

The Two-Way Relationship with Technology

Technology has long been viewed as a one-directional force that impels consumers forward. Innovations have forced us to adjust, think differently, and learn new behaviors.

But AI users are rethinking what new technology should mean to them. For them, the old rules of tech don’t always fit into the new world of AI. They want to change the technology as much as they want it to change them.

At Prolego, we wanted to understand just how many AI natives make up the US consumer base. And we wanted to know how their shifting perspectives are fundamentally changing the marketplace.

Here’s how we set out to learn more:

  1. We began with a deep dive into 150 resources on cultural dynamics in the AI consumer space.
  2. We surveyed 1,055 adults all across the US, ranging in age f rom 18 to 64 and representing all walks of life.
  3. We conducted 20 in-depth interviews with people in 13 states.
  4. We spoke with 20 industry leaders and experts in the world of AI.


Nearly two-thirds of people think that over the next 10 years, AI will have a positive impact.

Many people actually didn’t believe AI was possible 20 years ago.

“A hundred years from now, there probably will be no internet or smartphones. But there will certainly be AI.”

R&D Strategy and Portfolio Director
at Fortune 30 Healthcare Company

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