AI is here to stay. New report shows what small businesses need to know

18 March 2024
ITC News

ITC, in collaboration with Trade Finance Global, launched a report on how small businesses can use the rapidly changing technology. The key challenge is to strike a balance between using artificial intelligence to increase productivity while humans ensure reliability.

Artificial intelligence (AI) allows employees to create new content that can promote their businesses. For smaller enterprises in developing countries, AI can provides a way to make the most of limited time and resources.

But the report by the International Trade Centre (ITC), titled “Living with the Genie – Artificial Intelligence in Content Creation for Small Businesses in Trade,” shows that building trust is essential, said co-author Natalie Domeisen.

Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, said that businesses need to understand how AI tools like ChatGPT can both bring benefits and cause harm.

‘The genie is out of the bottle and we have to live with it,’ he said. ‘Our challenge as you consider the current situation is to figure out how we manage this genie, which can grant us many wishes, but at the same time may lead us into temptation or simply error. So we're looking to you to have that discussion, to shine light in dark corners.’

Sarah McCue, co-author of the report, said AI literacy and skills are already in great demand. Small businesses can enhance their operational efficiency if equipped with the know-how and use AI with discretion, she said.

‘We have to learn how to adopt and utilise this technology, along with other technologies in our stack, to make access to trade and working capital safe, efficient, cheap and fast,’ said Deepesh Patel, Editorial Director at Trade Finance Global. ‘However, we must be mindful of the risks, and ensure AI is in a safe and honest way.’

He spoke on a panel with Nairobi-based business journalist Victor Kiprop and with Frédéric Ballenegger, Deputy Head of Communication at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in Geneva.

They concluded that transparency, responsibility, accountability, and adaptability must underpin every content creator’s work.

Gary Marcus, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, cautioned that our collective overestimation of AI-generated content’s quality and accuracy has already caused a wide variety of problems. Governments and the international community must quickly develop stringent regulations.

The hybrid report launch, with a combined attendance of 250 online and in-person participants, was hosted by ITC’s in-house Innovation Lab, a grassroots collaborative hub for experimentation, learning, and the exchange of ideas.


16 March 2024