AI as a boost for micro-entrepreneurs - or a threat to employment?

All industries are currently challenged by the rapid evolution of technologies and changing operating environments. In particular, the rapid development of various artificial intelligence applications is revolutionising the way in which change is taking place. The potential of AI has even been compared to the industrial revolution and the advent of the internet, and these changes have had a significant impact on the nature of work and the structure of society. A key challenge for the future is to understand AI tools and identify best practices so that the new environment can be fully exploited to its full potential.
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In addition to the benefits, AI is also likely to be associated with many fears and threats of reduced employment opportunities in different sectors, especially for small players, if for one reason or another there is no opportunity to be included in the development flow of investments by large players. At the same time, AI brings great opportunities for the entrepreneur, but with the possibility to compete agilely with the big players, perhaps even better than before. At their best, AI tools free up the entrepreneur's workload, leaving time for other creative activities. The entrepreneur can develop something new with better technical quality or expressively more developed.

The history of AI goes back more than 60 years, with roots in mathematics and philosophy. The first AIs were simple programs with the ability to solve mathematical problems. Later, AI became more complex and capable of handling larger amounts of data. Today, AI is used in a wide range of fields, including healthcare, transport and entertainment.

In healthcare, AI is used to diagnose patients, plan treatments and analyse medical images, for example. For example, AI can be used for early detection of cancer, where AI identifies cancer cells from medical images. AI can also be used to analyse patients' health data to find links between different health problems and develop better treatments.

In transport, too, AI is being used in a variety of ways, for example in autonomous vehicles and traffic management. Autonomous vehicles use AI for navigation, obstacle detection and decision-making. AI can also be used in traffic management to optimise traffic flow and reduce congestion.

In addition to the above, the entertainment industry uses AI in a variety of ways, such as making recommendations and producing content. AI is also used, for example, in streaming services to make recommendations to provide users with music, movies and games that are tailored to their preferences. In recent months in particular, AI applications have been emerging at an accelerating pace in various areas, challenging legal issues ranging from copyrights to the privacy protection.

AI has many applications, including machine learning, natural language processing, image recognition, voice recognition and robotics. Machine learning is one of the most common AI applications, which allows computers to learn and evolve based on experience. Natural language processing is being used to develop tools such as chatbots and intelligent personal assistants. Image and voice recognition will make it easier to recognise and process images, videos and audio content. AI also enables robots to learn and make autonomous decisions.

There are therefore a wide range of applications. They challenge people to understand the multidimensionality and creative power of the field. Worst-case scenarios see AI acting autonomously, making its own decisions without human guidance. Hopefully, however, AI can continue to be regulated and humanity will find AI a responsible partner to enhance ethically and morally sound solutions to strengthen an effective future for society.

Sari Liikala, PhD, Project Researcher, University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute

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