Written by Juandre De Jong, SVP Product, RedCloud
Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially generative AI tools, have generated a lot of controversy in recent times. With applications that can seemingly do everything, from writing code to making art and more, there are many who believe that AI will become sentient and take over the world like the computer HAL did in the 1970s classic movie ‘Space Odyssey.’
My role at RedCloud is closely tied to integrating AI into our Intelligent Open Commerce platform to revolutionize commerce, and the last few months of interacting with this technology have given me a unique perspective and fresh appreciation for its potential.
It is important to go beyond the myths and fears about this technology and take a critical look at what AI can do and how it can help reshape industries and empower millions of businesses across the world’s fastest-growing markets.
The fears about AI
The current perceptions surrounding AI technology often stem from a mix of curiosity and uncertainty, and even some of the world’s smartest people seem to be in a flurry of panic about the effect of this technology.
For example, Elon Musk and a number of senior researchers recently wrote an open letter asking the world to “slow down” on AI for 6 months before advancing GPT-4. Goldman Sachs claimed in a recent publication that 300 million jobs would be affected by generative AI and that up to 7% of jobs could be eliminated. Another team of academics at Penn claimed in a study that 87% of jobs will be heavily impacted by AI.
These predictions, along with countless press articles and sci-fi movies painting doomsday pictures of AI machines running rouge, taking power and disrupting the world, have led most people to conclude that AI is too dangerous, with a recent survey showing that only 9% of everyday citizens believe that AI will do more harm than good for society. While some of these fears may be warranted, as new technology always has some negative side effects, AI itself is not necessarily evil or dangerous by design.
Among the many arguments made about AI, the most common is that it will eliminate jobs and increase inequality. This is an oft-repeated argument about any new technology, but it has yet to come true. For example, as the internet and automation gained popularity in the mid-2000s, Oxford University published reports that 47% of all jobs would be eliminated by automation. Publications like The Economist, McKinsey and others predicted that computers would completely wipe out jobs in retail, food service, banking and finance, complete with charts and graphs that showcased which jobs would be eliminated.
Looking back, it’s clear that none of these happened. The increased adoption of technology and automation has led to the creation of more job opportunities. For example, many merchants and distributors across emerging markets are overworked, having to manage their inventory manually. However, with our AI-powered Intelligent Open Commerce platform, we have automated the drudgery of managing their stores, allowing them to focus on what they do best – selling their products. More importantly, the adoption of Open Commerce technology has created a job opportunity for “platform handlers” who work with these merchants and distributors to help them manage their e-store and update inventory in real-time on the Open Commerce platform.
As AI adoption continues to grow, we will see an increased demand for more jobs in line with the technology. We are already seeing thousands of new jobs for “GPT-4 trainers” and “prompt engineers”, among others, and many businesses that we speak with say that AI will function as an assistant rather than the “robot that takes away jobs.”
Transforming Global Commerce with AI-powered Open Commerce
Our vision at RedCloud is to remove the barriers to fair and profitable trade in emerging markets using open commerce. Our AI-powered Intelligent Open Commerce Platform is eliminating complexity and providing equal opportunities to all stakeholders across the supply chain. This includes the over 1 billion merchants who are forced to run their businesses completely offline under a broken and inefficient supply and distribution chain.
RedCloud’s AI-powered Intelligent Open Commerce platform is designed to unlock the full value of the supply chain by capturing data across the entire market in real-time and analyzing that data to understand market trends, changes in consumption patterns, and other key market indicators. This gives businesses on the platform the invaluable capability to access actionable insights from the markets they already operate in and also gain insights into new markets.
With Open Commerce, brands and distributors can access more opportunities and make better decisions. They can identify areas of high product demand and new markets for expansion and also get recommendations on how best to capture that demand. With just a few clicks, sellers can adjust their pricing and inventory allocation and can even run targeted campaigns to select customer segments to drive growth. All this is made possible by leveraging the power of AI.
In addition, we are also leveraging generative AI to improve the reach and useability of Open Commerce. We’re eliminating the language barriers that have long hindered growth for businesses across emerging markets and making it possible for merchants and sellers on our Intelligent Open Commerce to communicate, order, and buy consumer goods in the language they understand best. For merchants not fluent in English, this is a game-changer, as they can leverage digital technology and Open Commerce in their natural language without the barriers of complexity.
As we move into a future driven by AI, it’s important that the technology is used responsibly, ethically and with a commitment to democratise access for more people and businesses, especially in underserved communities and markets.
At RedCloud, we recognize the importance of using AI responsibly, and we are dedicated to leveraging it in our Intelligent Open Commerce platform to empower businesses with the tools that they need to drive growth while ensuring that the implementation is underpinned by transparency and responsibility.