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Paolo Confino

Mark Cuban says even small businesses must learn how to use A.I.

Mark Cuban holding a microphone (Credit: Robin L Marshall—Getty Images)

Deeply understanding artificial intelligence use cases shouldn’t just be limited to big corporations. The rapidly evolving technology will be so impactful that it will affect small and medium-size enterprises all along Main Street, according to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. 

“I don’t care how big you are or how small you are, you have to learn about A.I.,” Cuban said at the Mackinac Policy Conference, hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber in Michigan last month. “I don’t care if you’re a one-man or woman show, or if you have 1,000, 2,000, or 5,000 employees, you have to understand how artificial intelligence is going to impact your business operations.”  

He implored businesses to consider A.I. an opportunity to improve operations, develop stronger customer relationships, and find new audiences.

“Even though it seems like a lot and like it’s complicated, you have to be curious enough to figure it out,” Cuban says. Otherwise, “someone is going to kick your butt.”   

Companies that effectively leverage A.I. early on will ensure their longevity. “There [are] two types of companies in the world: Those who are great at A.I. and everybody else,” Cuban says. 

The billionaire likened A.I. skeptics to those who told him that internet broadcasting—where he made his fortune after selling his company to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999—would never succeed. His critics argued that the idea didn’t solve a consumer need because viewers could simply turn on their televisions or radios. They were proved wrong, with the cable industry hemorrhaging subscribers and the world’s biggest media companies now engaged in so-called streaming wars

“People didn’t look forward then, and it’s the same thing with artificial intelligence,” he says. 

Much of the reticence to adopt A.I. stems from uncertainty around safeguarding the public against the negative consequences of a still poorly understood technology. Cuban’s comments come just a few weeks after OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before Congress, urging the government to regulate A.I. systems.

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