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June 20, 2024

Strictly Business | AI in Small-Town America: A 3-Part Series

In today’s fast-paced world, the term AI is buzzing everywhere. Curiosity about AI and its various tools has led me to explore how AI, ChatGPT and other AI technologies might benefit our Valley’s business owners and industries (myself included).

I would like to share some practical uses you might want to explore in your business. While I’m not an expert, I can attest from personal experience that researching resources via AI tools is a time-saving endeavor.

Exploring community resources

I’ve already discovered that Santa Cruz County of Education is taking proactive steps to explore AI practices and policies. State and local officials, in collaboration with the Council of Foreign Affairs, are addressing “Elections in the AI Era.” 

Mary Andersen, Marketing and Communications, Publisher and Editor of SLV Post, and Danny Reber, Executive Director of SV Chamber, have provided valuable names and resources for me to explore. But before I go any further, here are some brief descriptions of AI and its companions.

What is AI?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, specializes in natural language understanding and generation. Bard is Google’s AI tool for various tasks, similar to ChatGPT. Generative AI: AI systems autonomously generate content, such as text, images or music.

A short list of AI uses:

  • Google: utilized in search algorithms, content recommendations and Google Assistant.
  • TikTok: powers content recommendation algorithms and video editing features.
  • Snapchat: enhances filters, augmented reality effects and facial recognition.
  • Facebook: used for content recommendations, face recognition and content moderation.
  • Amazon: employed in product recommendations, Alexa voice assistant and warehouse automation.
  • Netflix: personalizes content recommendations and optimizes video streaming quality.
  • Uber: used for route optimization, pricing algorithms and driver matching.
  • Spotify: powers music recommendation algorithms and personalized playlists.
  • Tesla: enables autonomous driving features and vehicle safety systems.
  • Siri (Apple): virtual assistant for various tasks and voice commands.

In the 90s, Silicon Valley startups competed to develop ways to transmit data faster through fiber optics. Soon to follow, marketing managers in corporations were scrambling to figure out how to use social media, which emerged in the 2000s.

From encyclopedias, libraries, Thomas maps, and phone booths, baby boomers have witnessed the evolution of communication technology. Today, we have a generation for whom this new age of technology and information is commonplace. However, concerns about how AI might negatively impact us, such as job displacement, are top of mind.

We reside in an age of technology and information, where software applications have extended beyond chatbots in e-commerce engines, now influencing all forms of human communication.

Next article:

As mentioned earlier, I am currently speaking with various professionals and experts who are generously providing information to help us, business owners, understand the benefits, uses and value of AI.

I plan to explore further what specific resources, such as Santa Cruz Works, attended by tech businesses and entrepreneurs. I invite business owners to share how you are currently using AI in particular ways, so please feel free to give me a shout-out. I’m eager to understand AI rather than fear it.


Janet Janssen is a Life in Business Coach, Trainer, Speaker, Board Member of Leadership Santa Cruz County and Sub-Teacher of Supervision/Leadership Academy. Contact her at [email protected] or 831-335-0553.

Janet Janssen
Janet Janssen
Janet Janssen is a Life in Business coach, public speaker, Leadership Santa Cruz County board member and SLV and SV Chamber member. Visit janetjanssen.com for upcoming events and presentations. Contact her at [email protected] or 831-335-0553.

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