How will artificial intelligence impact rural communities?

The hot topic of the day seems to be “Artificial Intelligence” or “AI” for short. More specifically “ChatGPT”. On this topic, a quote from Thomas Jefferson comes to mind when he said, “I’m a big believer in happiness, and I find that the harder I work, the more of it I get.” When it comes to AI, one cannot help but wonder how AI will impact smaller or rural communities in the future.

Regardless of where you stand, make no mistake, it will take hard work and not luck to maximize this tool. Luckily, Guy Tasaka, a good friend of mine and co-founder of MediaFlowAI, recently said when talking about AI, “You can be on the train or under the train”.

The impact of AI on smaller communities will depend on various factors, such as resource availability, infrastructure, and the community’s willingness to adopt new technologies. However, there are several potential positive and negative impacts that AI could have on smaller communities. Here are just a few.

On the plus side, AI will enable significantly improved access to healthcare. AI can help diagnose diseases more accurately and quickly, especially in areas where there is a shortage of medical professionals. AI will make farming more efficient, helping farmers optimize crop yields, reduce waste and increase profits. AI can lead to a much better education, it can help create personalized learning experiences for students regardless of their location or socioeconomic status. AI can lead to the creation of more jobs, it could potentially create new job opportunities in fields like data analysis, software development and robotics.

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On the negative side of the equation, as with many things, it can be a double-edged sword. While AI can create jobs as mentioned above, it may also be able to automate certain types of jobs, which can lead to job losses in certain industries. AI can increase inequality as smaller communities may not have access to the same resources and infrastructure needed for full AI adoption, potentially leading to a wider digital divide.

AI can invade privacy, it requires vast amounts of data to function effectively, and that data could potentially be used for purposes that are inconsistent with community values. AI can create a dependency on technology. Over-reliance on AI can potentially lead to a loss of critical thinking and decision-making skills.

As might be expected, the overall impact of AI on smaller communities will depend on how it is understood, implemented and integrated into the community. It is important that communities carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks before choosing which aspects of AI to adopt or embrace. This allows them to use AI where it makes sense, ensuring the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Finally, understand that being afraid of something tends to be paralyzing. We cannot afford to fear AI, AI has far too many positive aspects. Rather than ignoring or fearing AI, it is important that we strive to understand the many values ​​and positive uses that can be derived from it. Ignoring or fearing AI just gets us under the train. Learning to understand, use, and even embrace it ensures we have the right tools to succeed.

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John Newby of SW Missouri is a nationally recognized columnist, speaker and publisher. He advises community, business & media. His column, “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” is read by over 60 communities across the country. As the founder of Truly-Local, he supports communities, media and business leaders in building synergies that create vibrant communities. He can be reached at: [email protected].