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UN Speech: "AI and the Future of MSMEs"

Delivered a speech at the United Nations about the role of AI and the Future of MSMEs. The speech was part of the annual celebration of June 27 MSMEs Day hosted by ICSB.

Kyle Lyon
Kyle Lyon
5 min read
UN Speech: "AI and the Future of MSMEs"
(Part 2) Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSME) Day 2023
Galvanizing MSMEs worldwide by supporting women and youth entrepreneurship and resilient supply chains.

I'm incredibly grateful for the chance to have spoken at the United Nations on 'AI and the Future of MSMEs'.

This topic, given the rapidly evolving technological landscape and the transformative potential of AI, is particularly timely and relevant. It opens up new vistas of understanding the intricate relationship between the emerging technology of AI and the thriving ecosystem of MSMEs, which are undoubtedly the backbone of many economies.

My UN speech script changed due to spontaneous thoughts and interactions during delivery, but this version still captures the essence.

Without further ado, here's what I had planned to share at the United Nations on that memorable day:

Hello everyone.

My name is Kyle Lyon, and I'm a data scientist. Over the past year, I've had the privilege of working alongside the US Space Force in contributing to the innovation of its data infrastructure and capabilities by creating and deploying data-driven solutions such as machine learning algorithms to tackle mission-critical challenges.

This experience has not only shaped my view of the future of artificial intelligence but also given me a window into how the data industry perceives its trajectory.

Prior to my start as a data scientist, I had the privilege of working for the International Council for Small Business for three years, managing operations and learning about MSMEs.

It's this blend of experiences – being exposed to the dynamics of small business and the potential of AI – that brings me to this stage.

Before I dive into our topic, I would like to firstly extend my gratitude to Dr. Tarabishy for inviting me to speak to you all at the UN.

I’m sure you’re all well aware that the world of AI is no longer science-fiction and is becoming very real before our very eyes.

We are currently experiencing a seismic shift in our technology landscape, a revolution that is reshaping the way we interact with machines.

Many within the data industry view it as the most impactful technology revolution in the last decade. Others are more skeptical, suggesting we may be in the midst of a technology bubble.

Today, I'll endeavor to share my insights and hopefully offer a balanced perspective on how AI will impact MSMEs.

But first I need to comment on how we got here, before I speak about the future.

The true nature of the revolution we are experiencing. Contrary to popular belief, it is not predominantly a result of AI innovation but rather the advancements in User Experience Design, or UX, design.

Over the years, AI has quietly found its way into our daily lives – from the recommender systems suggesting our next favorite movie, the predictive text that finishes our sentences in emails, to the subtle algorithms that sort our social media feeds. All these instances of AI were carefully cloaked behind the scenes, the result of a design philosophy that prioritized a seamless user experience.

Its presence has been deliberately hidden within software applications by UX designers, who aimed to keep technology out of sight and mind, ensuring a seamless product use.

However, a significant shift in technology is taking place. It's not necessarily about AI itself, but a paradigm shift in product philosophy where users are now encouraged to interact with AI directly.

This is a considerable departure from the previous era where AI was something that hummed along in the background, out of sight. The focus has shifted towards the user, transforming their interaction with the technology around them. The AI revolution that we speak of is, in essence, a UX revolution.

With this perspective, let's look at how this revolution influences MSMEs, the bedrock of our economy. How will MSMEs adapt to and use AI?

Yet, it's crucial to acknowledge that it's still early days. While the industry can speculate on the possible benefits and adaptations, the exact 'form' of AI – how users, including MSMEs, will interact with it – is more challenging to predict.

With the ongoing advancements in AI, MSMEs are on the brink of a transformative era where artificial intelligence is not merely an auxiliary tool, but a powerful enabler that can democratize the competitive landscape.

The most promising aspect of this AI revolution is the capacity to 'flatten the world', enabling small businesses to compete on a global scale, unshackled by traditional operational costs.

Consider the power of transformer and generative AI technologies.

They can be used by businesses to autonomously create engaging content for their websites, develop dynamic virtual models for their online stores, and craft personalized, effective marketing strategies.

This 'off-the-shelf' AI essentially becomes a digital content factory, reducing human effort and resource constraints, thereby creating possibilities for rapid scaling.

Imagine a scenario where an artisan chocolate maker uses AI to design a captivating website. A simple prompt is all that's needed, and the AI does the rest - generating the website's content, its layout, even the aesthetics, all tailored to the specific brand and audience.

Furthermore, MSMEs can employ pre-trained large language models (LLMs) to revolutionize their customer service operations.

These models can power chatbots and automated customer service platforms that provide a level of service quality and responsiveness that can match, if not surpass, larger corporations.

No longer will small businesses need to invest heavily in building a large customer service team. Instead, they can simply 'buy' AI off the shelf, ready to serve their customer needs.

This is where entrepreneurs and visionaries come into play. With the power to effectively 'speak things into existence', they can leverage these technologies to turn their innovative ideas into reality without the need for massive resources.

AI can become the magic wand that transforms the world of MSMEs, providing them with the tools they need to thrive in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

This widespread use of AI technology is going to level the playing field between large corporations and MSMEs. The current  AI revolution will democratize access to AI tools, making them as ubiquitous as owning a website is today.

Regardless of how it unfolds, it's clear that the UX revolution is poised to redefine how MSMEs operate, bringing new opportunities and capabilities within their grasp.

So, as we stand on the brink of this revolution, let's embrace it, let's harness it, and let's look forward to a future where MSMEs will find exciting new ways to thrive in an AI-enabled world.

Thank you.

Kyle Lyon Twitter

I'm Kyle, a Data Scientist in DevSecOps contracting with the U.S. Space Force through Silicon Mountain Technologies.