Artificial intelligence is infiltrating industries across the globe. Entrepreneurs have opinions on the impact of AI and few are on the fence. Some are inspired, excited, and seeing what they can create. Others are fearful, nervous, and scrambling to stay relevant or ignoring it completely.
I asked entrepreneurs to explain whether they were excited or afraid of artificial intelligence, and they shared their hopes and concerns.
Pro: Enhancing creativity
There is a plethora of AI tools for every creative pursuit you could wish to start. For this reason, establishing a professional-looking business is easier than ever. Tools exist for branding, building a website, and creating content in every format. Creative ideas can go from concept to reality in just a few clicks.
Cameron Adams, co-founder and chief product officer of Canva, thinks AI will fuel a massive explosion in creativity and efficiency for businesses, democratising it and allowing people to tap into more creativity than they knew they had before. “Time is the most precious asset in our workday, and AI is an incredible tool to have in your visual communication toolkit,” he said. He sees AI not as something that will completely do a job for you, but something that can, “help get ideas off the ground, allowing you to quickly go from an idea to a quality draft.” He added that AI can mean you “start with a better draft that raises the baseline for creative work,” ultimately resulting in more interesting and engaging results.
Describing AI as “steroids for content,” Chris Caffrey, founder of Legacy Club, said AI will “allow entrepreneurs and their teams to appeal to new audiences and enhance their marketing and digital assets.” On a similar note, Neo Nortey from Nortey Razzi uses AI in his business photography, enjoying that it has changed “how we create and manipulate images, allowing for new creative possibilities and enhanced workflow efficiency regardless of experience or budget.” In photography and other creative pursuits, AI means the artist can, “devote more time to the creative aspects of their work, without compromising on quality or incurring additional cost” and pass these results onto their clients.
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Pro: Improving efficiency
Before the internet there were cheques to cash, letters to handwrite and physical meetings to attend. After incorporating AI there seems to be no waiting at all. Entrepreneurs are taking every process in their business and reducing every inefficiency they can.
Vadim Solovey, CTO and co-founder of DoiT International is streamlining processes and optimizing resources for maximum efficiency. “By integrating AI into the core of our services, we can better extract valuable insights from data and predict trends, making more informed decisions and delivering more effective results.” Within Solovey’s business he has, “automated routine tasks, freeing up talented team members to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of operations,” describing AI as, “a supportive backbone” allowing the company to increase accuracy, reduce response times and scale better.
Jim Harshaw, Jr from The Harshaw Group is applying this to content, using AI to “create higher quality content, more quickly,” and describing the main benefit as “reducing the cognitive bandwidth for getting started in tasks like content creation” so he and his team can focus energy on other tasks within the business. “We use AI to write podcast titles, social media and blog posts. While we still have to refine the content created by AI, it significantly reduces the workload.” Don White from Satisfi Labs is excited by the “boring things” that AI is doing within his business, including, “email and document creation software that have been a minimal but important time saver,” and “the ability to generate data that is easier for technology partners, consumers, and employees to consume.” White has also been able to skip “some time-consuming stages of our product roadmap with the latest tools now available.”
Pro: Providing a better service
Removing humans removes human error. Cutting out the waffle streamlines delivery. AI is helping some entrepreneurs simply provide a better service to their clients. Teaching a machine to do tasks that were once only carried out by a person makes it easier to productize a business and serve at scale.
Ally Fekaiki from Juno is “excited by the potential for AI to enhance the customer experience,” describing AI-powered tools like ChatGPT as “unlocking wildly sophisticated opportunities for next-level customer communications and user engagement.” Juno has integrated ChatGPT into its platform to “create an AI-enabled wellbeing planner that helps users achieve their goals.” Same product, add AI, and a better service ensues, a change that Fekaiki said “enables us to create meaningful, bespoke user experiences so customers to derive even more value from our products.” Do more for your customers for the same price, keep them coming back for more.
For health and fitness entrepreneurs specifically, AI is creating a multidimensional customer experience that exponentially improves the service. Dr. Nora Khaldi, CEO and founder of Nuritas, said they “couldn’t achieve what we are doing today without AI,” when talking of the “health-promoting molecules that AI allows us to discover.” Khaldi said AI “makes it feasible for us to unlock previously untapped ingredients from nature, allowing us to break the decades-old cycle of poor quality products that have created a wave of health problems for consumers.” RNT Fitness founder Akash Vaghela adds that AI-assisted coaches can provide, “even better recommendations than humans,” because they can “analyse more data, consider more factors, and utilise biofeedback to drive the best advice, in real-time, proactively and reactively,” which he believes will mean better results and free up space for coaches to “dive even deeper into their clients’ lives.”
But what about the potential downsides of AI?
Con: Dehumanising and impersonal
Not every entrepreneur is convinced by artificial intelligence, and for every pro there is also a flipside. More automation means fewer jobs available, short-term gains might be outweighed by long-term headaches, not to mention the adverse reactions that haven’t been considered.
Anna Hamill from And Hope Designs is “scared by the prospect of AI being used too much or incorrectly,” because she said, “people buy from people, and buy using their emotions.” Hamill is concerned that small business owners in particular will use AI to save time and “end up ruining a business that was human and had genuine emotion to it” and thinks AI tools can make “website copy and other aspects of a business sound robotic and not like the tone of voice their customers know and love.” Can AI-generated content ever sound truly human? And if customers suspect there’s a bot behind a brand, will it put them off?
Charlie Day from Charlie Day Sales is also worried about “losing that personal connection, which is so important to make money as a business owner.” He believes too many businesses are neglecting “social selling and old-school marketing,” including telephone calls, which are “really effective for me and the business owners I help.” Day thinks chatbots and automatic replies forgo the chance to build relationships, which he said is key to sales. “People buy from people, not AI,” he said. The solution is different for different types of business, so consider if human touch or AI efficiency is what your customers really want.
Con: Plagiarism and misinformation
Chat GPT, Midjourney and various other content creation tools can help you generate articles and images in seconds, given the right prompt. But are those articles and images any good? Robots and humans can both create low quality content, but humans need to sleep and eat at some point whereas robots can just keep going.
Plagiarism and Google penalties are just some of the concerns keeping entrepreneurs up at night when it comes to AI. Ian Wright from Merchant Machine is scared by, “how easy it is to create content without the sources behind it, because there is no easy way to go back and fact check.” He said that for medical terms or investment decisions, the impact of this could be huge.
William Green from Poem Analysis can “appreciate the anxiety AI can produce, both in controlling it, what it means for publishers online, and fair usage of using large data set models that have been used to train the AI.” If everyone’s hard-earned content can simply be used to train AI models, where does that leave creators? The legislation hasn’t yet caught up, so no one is sure.
Con: Privacy and security concerns
Bilawal Gul from PressPitch.io is concerned with potential cyberattacks “that can cause significant harm to businesses and individuals alike.” When AI is involved, “cyberattacks are challenging to defect and defend, as they can adapt and evolve based on the defences used against them.” Gul posed the question, “What if an AI-driven virus became ‘friends’ with our AI-driven defence system?” and predicts this means “we’ll be at the mercy of ‘good AI’ and ‘bad AI’, without being able to identify which one to trust and how to get rid of them,” a situation he thinks is, “an inevitable mess.”
Looking into dystopian fiction hints at what the future of AI might hold. Relationships with chatbots, artificial friends looking after kids and recreating people after they have passed away might be a few of the ways it infiltrates our personal lives. Allowed into our businesses, what might those implications be? Access to bank accounts, diaries and email conversations might open cans of worms that are best left shut.
For the enhanced creativity, improved efficiency and better service benefits, there’s also the potential for AI to dehumanise a business as well as spread misinformation and pose a serious risk. Is AI ultimately a force for good or evil and how do we take the best parts without the worst? Stay curious, think about what every update means, and be prepared to slow down in the interests of sustainability. Pivot and adapt without being reckless or ignoring the dangers.