Navigating AI inequality: Can we avoid creating A teams and B teams?

7 May 2024

By Aki Antman, CEO & Founder of Sulava, President of AI & Copilot at The Digital Neighborhood, Peter Charquero Kestenholz, Founder, Head of Innovation & AI at Projectum and Erik David Johnson, Chief AI Officer at Delegate.

This blog is the fourth in a series of eight blogs about the challenges and opportunities in AI technology.

Social and economic inequality is growing, both globally and nationally. Will AI exacerbate this trend - or, conversely, provide people with better opportunities to reach their full potential?

The world of information is opening to everyone

Artificial intelligence might be the biggest change we have faced in our lifetime. A transformative wave is rolling, and none of us know or can really imagine the perspectives – not short-term, not mid-term, and definitely not long-term. Opportunities are unlimited, but there are also plenty of uncertainties and risks. One of them is the inequality in the access and use of the new AI tools, and as a consequence, the risk of creating ‘A teams’ and ‘B teams’.

On one hand, AI can reduce inequality. Everyone with some form of device now has access to large language models like ChatGPT. And AI models can understand and translate virtually any language. So, the world of information has become much more open, which can promote social and economic inclusion among individuals and businesses.

On the other hand, there is a risk that AI can exacerbate the already growing inequality we see both globally and in Western countries. The gap can widen between those who have a smartphone or a computer and those who still do not. Today, two-thirds of the world's population has access to the internet, which is more than ever before, but that still leaves more than 2.5 billion people without access. At the same time, the freedom to search for information is limited by the government in quite a few countries, including China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia.

And then there is the age gap. Younger generations are by nature more used to adapting to and taking advantage of new technological trends because they are born digital, and the plasticity of their brains is simply higher. In a highly digitalized country like Denmark, one out of five is 'digitally limited' – most of them elerly citizens.

But it is not just about age or access to digital devices and services. It is very much about different traits of personalities that are willing or unwilling to accept and appreciate new technologies. Some can’t get enough; others are more hesitant.

With the emergence of AI, there is undoubtedly a political task in ensuring both access to and understanding of the new opportunities among all segments of society.

“The gap will, of course, get smaller. AI technology is accessible to almost everyone. Even with a simple device, you have access to a vast amount of information that wasn't available to you before, and the AI models understand basically every language in the world.”

Aki Antman
CEO and founder of Sulava, President of AI & Copilot at The Digital Neighborhood

Businesses must take a stand

The trends outlined above do not specifically relate to artificial intelligence but to technology in general. However, when technology takes a quantum leap, the difference between those who participate and those who do not becomes more pronounced. For instance, when tractors were introduced, people who continued using shovels and plows faced challenges to their livelihoods.

It is pivotal for businesses to take a stance on whether to be part of the development or not. Today, there is a significant difference in the extent to which companies use AI tools and plan to do so in the near future.

Some companies have a more conservative mindset than others, and for certain industries, the advantages of AI are more obvious than for others. But for most, AI tools can reduce costs, sharpen competition, and reduce inequality by enabling smaller businesses to compete with larger ones. Because, looking forward, manpower and financial power will not necessarily have the same impact as before.

“I had the assumption myself that the older generations would not be able to grasp this new transformative technology. But after talking to hundreds of people, I realized that how positive you are to changes like Generative AI, is more of a personality trait than an age thing.”

Erik David Johnson
Chief AI Officer at Delegate