Artificial Intelligence and the Caribbean

If

you read global tech news you’ll see that the next “big thing” is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is being promoted as the foundation for the next industrial revolution given its recent rapid advances and expanding use cases. This has triggered many a conversation about what the impact of AI will have on the future of humanity and the global labor market. The previous industrial revolutions displaced many jobs and even destroyed some professions, but also created new jobs, professions and entire industries. The open question is will this 3rd industrial revolution have the same evolutionary impact as the previous?

Becoming a nearshore Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) destination for major U.S. companies has been a goal for Jamaica as outlined in the economic growth plan. This has led to a number of successful ventures springing up across the country funded both by domestic and international capital. For example, Xerox (A Fortune 500, which bought Jamaican owned ACS) recently announced the expansion of its operations in the Caribbean and the creation of 2500 jobs for Jamaicans. However, one of the emerging popular use cases for AI has been replacing certain BPO activities with AI Bots, such as customer care/ agent support. Therefore, BPO is one of the industries that is a prime candidate for early adoption of AI, given the relative simplicity of tasks and costs benefits that can be achieved.

As the government of Jamaica and other Caribbean countries invest in the Information Technology (IT) & BPO sectors it raises the question of the sustainability of this approach with the emergence of AI. I’m curious to know if the government of Jamaica and other countries in the region are thinking about the potential impact AI will have on their IT growth strategies and how they are preparing for it. While this current strategy addresses the short-term employment need, it leaves a big gap for the medium and long-term. As the pace of technology development accelerates and the world becomes a more fluid environment there is need for Jamaica and similar countries to invest more in envisioning their role in a post 3rd industrial revolution age by preparing for and embracing the 4th to avoid being further displaced and negatively disrupted. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on this topic in the comments section below.

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