Must Know Artificial Intelligence Insights for Small Business

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Sorting out 5 AI-related terms and summary of the key AI players.

It is difficult to avoid hearing all the noise screaming that new Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are “game-changers” for the world.

Let’s begin by exploring 5 AI-related terms populating news and newsfeeds today.

  1. Weak AI or Narrow AI – AI that is limited and specific without full scope that can only perform tasks that it is programmed to do, such as chatbots, email filters, the smart assistant on your smartphone or a chess-playing AI, self-driving cars. 
  2. Strong AI – Currently under development, this is AI that can perform beyond routine tasks and perform a variety of integrated tasks and learn to teach itself to solve new problems and perform new tasks that require general intelligence and reasoning. Strong AI is also known as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) or Human-Level AI.
  3. Generative AI: Generative AI refers to the ability of the technology to generate new content from other content sources such as text, images, art and so on. 
  4. Open Source: software with source code, design documents, or content made freely available for anyone to see, modify, and redistribute. OpenAI has a non-profit and also a for-profit entity, OpenAI Inc. is where you can find ChatGPT, and DALL-E 2, among other tools (ChatGPT3 is licensed to Microsoft). 
  5. Natural Language Processing (NLP): refers to computers or machines being able to analyze, generate, and manipulate natural language texts and understand how humans write and speak and respond in ways that sound like natural language. You may have heard of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, also called NLP, which is a neuro-science / psychological theory/model that considers the idea that we can use words to help change or program people’s thinking and behaviors. 

But this AI hype is nothing new — futurists and books have explored the good, bad, and ugly potential of AI for decades.  

I searched online to identify the first book and the first movie to reference AI. They were Erewhon by Samuel Butler with the chapter “The Book of Machines” in 1872, and the 1927 film Metropolis, by Fritz Lang. I asked ChatGPT the same question, and it missed the book until I specifically asked for it. Then the chatbot corrected its information and agreed. The first book I recall reading that explored AI was “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. 

Today the hype is more tangible than it has ever been and it is important for businesses of all sizes to understand where AI is headed and how it will impact them.  

AI Is A Modern Wild West

Way back between 2007 – 2010, I frequently referred to social media as a wild west show. Everyone on Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn was sifting the rushing waters to fill their pans with gold.

Today we again find ourselves in the middle of the AI wild west show. 

There are big and small AI players in the conversation right now. The big AI players in the market have investments from some of the most well-known figures in business and technology. Microsoft famously recently upped their 2019 investment of $1 billion in OpenAI Inc., to $10 Billion in January 2023. Other Open AI investors include Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Sam Altman, Elon Musk, and multiple capital investment firms — a who’s who of the biggest players, leaders, and investors in the largest tech companies today.

Here’s a quick summary of the biggest emerging players in the AI game today: 

  • Microsoft: An investor and partner of OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT, a generative AI tool. Microsoft uses ChatGPT in its Co-pilot and browser Bing and now LinkedIn services, now using SKYPE to interface with Bing search
  • Google: A developer of BERT, a NLP model used in its search engine and other services. DeepMind: A subsidiary of Google, DeepMind is behind some of the most impressive AI achievements, such as AlphaGo, AlphaZero, and MuZero, which can master complex games without humans.
  • IBM: AI products and services, such as Watson, a cognitive computing platform that can understand natural language and provide insights 
  • Stable Research: A developer of Stability AI, an open-source software platform that powers Stable Diffusion and other AI tools. Stable Diffusion is a generative AI tool that can create realistic and diverse images from text descriptions.
  • Anthropic: A developer of Anthropic Studio, an ethical AI tool that allows users to interact with various AI agents, such as Claude, who can answer questions and generate texts based on user preferences
  • AI21 Labs: A developer of Jurassic-1, a natural language generation model that can write long-form texts from prompts.
  • Synthesia: A developer of Character AI, an AI tool that allows users to create video conversations between famous people.
  • Baidu: A developer of ERNIE, a natural language understanding model that can perform various tasks, such as question answering, sentiment analysis, and machine translation.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): A provider of AWS Marketplace for Machine Learning, a platform that allows customers to find and use various AI tools from third-party providers, such as Stability AI and AI21.
  • Meta Platforms: The metaverse is a virtual environment where people can interact with each other and digital content using immersive technologies using AI to power its metaverse vision and Facebook also develops its own AI models and tools, such as PyTorch, a popular open-source framework for deep learning.

Because Open AI, Stability AI, and other companies are “open source”, thousands of new AI tools have started to pop up, created by individuals or small business-based developer teams. Some of the AI tools can perform very small and specific tasks such as reviewing and writing an email, analyzing the best-reviewed movies, finding recipes that match your needs to more involved tasks such as producing a 30-second fully AI-generated commercial, analyzing your entire supply chain. 

There is a lot happening in this AI and it is imperative that small businesses today pay attention. At LBT we will continue to share insight and find and share practical information and tools to help your business stay on top of the AI trends.

And yes, this article was written by a human. But AI helped check for spelling and grammar — a taste of how we can use these exciting tools in the future.

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