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Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Small Businesses in Brooklyn: Hype or Reality?

 AI expert Kai-Fu Lee predicts AI will replace repetitive jobs in both the blue and white job categories
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By Kenneth Mbonu, Executive Director of The Flatbush Junction Business Improvement District

 AI expert, author and financier Kai-Fu Lee predicts AI will have serious impacts on future jobs; it will replace repetitive jobs in both the blue and white job categories, he predicts 40% of US jobs will be displaced in the next 15 — 20 years.

AI began as the pursuit of understanding human intelligence and somehow morphed into machine intelligence, which uses pattern recognition techniques with large amounts of data to solve repetitive tasks. We use AI applications on a daily basis, like Siri; Apple's personal assistant, Alexia; Amazon's smart home device or Netflix; providing accurate predictive technologies based on customers' reaction to films.

Why should AI not be a sought-after application for small businesses to apply trending technology to increase revenue, remain competitive and enhance efficiency? However, this is not the case, AI technology is still in its infancy, very expensive and has no direct evidence of a measurable ROI. AI applications require a highly skilled team and time that most small businesses cannot afford.

Small businesses do not need AI to grow, be profitable or competitive. When the technology becomes more defined with less requisite knowledge, then it may be time for small businesses to jump on board. However, small businesses can leverage technologies that use AI applications through companies that offer off-the-shelf integrated easy to use products in areas such marketing, logistics and fraud detection.

Salesforce (cloud computing service that specializes in customer relationship management (CRM); using cloud technology to connect businesses with customers, partners and prospects) and Mailchimp (an all-in-one marketing platform that helps businesses manage and talk to clients, customers, and other interests) are examples of off-the-shelf AI applications.

AI could also be leveraged using Facebook and Google for programmatic advertising. If a small business has an ad campaign, by providing an email list, these technology companies can use AI to find commonalities and target similar people on Facebook or Google databases, increasing the audience of people with similar characteristics in real time.

In the distant future, AI will be the foundation for business applications, but for now small businesses can start building data infrastructure that would be relevant for AI companies building products for their relevant industries. AI companies would use the collective data to enhance predictive analytical applications to develop smarter business tools.