UAE small businesses embrace ChatGPT as tech allows productivity boost

Startups told Al Arabiya English that ChatGPT means they don’t have to spend as much time doing laborious jobs such as writing blogs or job descriptions.

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Small companies across the United Arab Emirates are embracing ChatGPT to free up their time from doing mundane tasks which allows them to spend more time on creativity, business leaders told Al Arabiya English.

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ChatGPT is a piece of artificial intelligence that can converse with users and answer questions when asked. It can also help people with tasks such as writing copy using the supplied prompts.

Large companies including Meta and Shopify already use the technology, and Buzzfeed said in January it would begin using it to enhance quizzes on its website and personalize some content for audiences, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time. Such announcements by large companies have led to speculation that the technology could put people in certain jobs, such as content creation, out of work.

But for startups who don’t have access to the large resources of a multinational company, the technology could revolutionize the way they work.

“Rather than seeing those jobs eliminated, companies might be looking to [use ChatGPT to] make them more efficient, and essentially to free up their time.” Kurt Muehmel, AI strategic advisor at Paris-based Dataiku told Al Arabiya English.

One company using ChatGPT is Shaffra, a Dubai-based firm that uses the Metaverse, a virtual reality space that simulates scenes, to help companies plan business strategies such as construction projects.

“As a startup, our resources are kind of scarce,” said COO Alfred Manassah Shaffra, explaining that his time is now “significantly more efficient” because the technology does laborious content-based tasks for the company, thereby freeing his team to focus on jobs like product development.

“It pushes us to become more creative,” Shaffra added. “In our team we are [now] focused on developing our technology and getting more clients.”

Another UAE company looking to leverage the technology is Growdash. The startup works with restaurants on their advertising campaigns for platforms such as Deliveroo and Careem.

The company is hoping to use the AI tool to, for example, provide insight on why a particular marketing campaign has not performed well and how it can then be improved, as well as with manual tasks such as creating combo menus for restaurants.

“I see it [the technology] as an opportunity instead of competition because it’s so versatile,” said Makrukh Mir, cofounder.

Al Arabiya English spoke to several other UAE startups already using ChatGPT including EpicJam, CloudSource and GrubTech.

Head of EpicJam Hassan Sarwar told Al Arabiya English that it helps him with written tasks and creating more targeted content, while managing director of recruitment firm CloudSource said ChatGPT helps the company do things such as build job descriptions.

But ChatGPT is far from perfect, and flaws of the technology include it giving inaccurate responses at times and it being unclear on its information sources, Muehmel said.

It could be sourcing material from websites such as Wikipedia, which might not necessarily be accurate, he added.

“These technologies have a propensity to provide inaccurate responses. The challenge is when it responds confidently in the tone of an expert,” Muehmel said, adding that he once asked ChatGPT what date French scientist Louis Pasteur was born, and it gave him the wrong answer.

“Sometimes it just imagines responses because it’s not actually querying its database of information. What it’s doing is trying to create a sentence that sounds right,” he added.

AI regulation

Muehmel, alongside others, said more regulation is needed to deal with such problems arising from tech such as ChatGPT.

The EU is currently proposing legislation to further regulate the technology, which means, AI like ChatGPT could be rated from “minimal risk” to “unacceptable risk.”

EU industry chief Thierry Breton told Reuters in February that new proposed artificial intelligence rules will aim to tackle concerns about the risks around the ChatGPT chatbot and AI technology.

Under the EU draft rules, ChatGPT is considered a general-purpose AI system which can be used for multiple purposes including high-risk ones such as the selection of candidates for jobs and credit scoring.

And in a sign that smaller companies in the UAE may not become fully reliant on the tool soon, most are using it as a base for their work.

“We never take it as it is,” said Shaffra adding that he always proof-reads and rewrites the content.

“We don’t totally copy it, but it’s a great base,” added CloudSource’s Toffrey. “We can tailor things how we see fit.”

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