Government Must Strike a Balance Between AI Regulation and Fostering Innovation to Strengthen U.S. Leadership
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. – During its nearly 30-year history, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) has logged frontline experience observing how technological advancements have affected the small business ecosystem, including the spate of short-lived anxiety that each phase of disruptive innovation creates for small business owners. Without exception, the initial ambiguity was followed by appreciation for these new innovative tools. And, successful entrepreneurs embraced the positive changes that new innovations generated for their businesses and the marketplace. Such is likely the case when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). According to SBE Council’s recent Emerging Tech, Innovation and Small Business Survey (which has just been updated with an AI section), entrepreneurs largely perceive AI as useful for small businesses and society, yet they currently express some apprehension about its impact and influence.
“We should not be surprised that some small business owners express apprehension and concern with this rapidly emerging technology given the dominant headlines featuring scary outcomes from the doom-and-gloom wing of AI ‘thought leaders’. Given the emphasis on frightening headlines that sell newspapers or clicks, it’s no wonder that 30% of the small business owners surveyed express concern – only 11% strongly so – that AI may replace their business. At the same time, 60% acknowledge AI’s positive impact on the economy and humanity,” said SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan.
“Over time, we’ve seen the exact same worries expressed about the emergence of the internet, the introduction of e-commerce, the launch of apps and the sharing economy, and most recently immersive tech and the metaverse, which by the way, small business owners are excited about. Lawmakers, regulators and policy leaders need to be measured in what they do and say, and not act too fast in hyper-regulating AI, as many of its most beneficial uses could get snuffed out. Moreover, we cannot cede AI leadership to China or rogue nations.”
SBE Council’s “Emerging Tech, Innovation and Small Business Survey” includes a range of topics and issues related to cloud computing, immersive tech and the metaverse, R&D expensing by small businesses (and the negative effects of not restoring immediate R&D expensing ), and their views and use of AI. SBE Council released the first round of survey results on the first three topics, which is now being supplemented with the AI findings.
Highlights of the AI results include:
● 84% of small business owners agree that government must strike a balance between regulation and fostering innovation “enabling the U.S. to lead in AI while safeguarding societal well-being.”
● Most small business owners (92%) believe they have a good understanding of AI.
● 65% perceive AI as useful for small businesses.
● 60% acknowledge its positive impact on the economy and humanity.
● 50% express some nervousness with AI-powered products.
● AI tools most used by small business owners include: customer service chatbots (41%), digital voice assistants (39%), tools for marketing and predictive analysis (38%), and facial detection for security (20%).
● 22% said they are not using AI tools, and 3% were not sure.
● 30% strongly agree that the use of AI needs government regulation.
Regarding government’s role in overseeing AI, small business owners express varying views on what that role should be.
What Role Should the U.S. Government Play in Overseeing Artificial Intelligence’s Growth, Use and Development?
Kerrigan noted that entrepreneurs and innovative small firms also play an outsized role in AI’s development and innovative uses, therefore their views and expertise needs to be heard by regulators and lawmakers as innovators and users.
“To date, the big company CEO’s and academics have been consulted by Congress or received an invitation to the White House. Small business owners need to be at the AI table. They are not only benefitting from AI tools, but they also dominate the tech industry and specifically this space. Congress, the White House and regulators need to hear from startup founders, entrepreneurs and small business owners in all deliberations about possible regulatory frameworks. Small firms are disproportionately impacted by regulation, and inappropriate or hasty regulation may actually mean the demise of important AI tools that could vastly improve access to health care and health outcomes, protect our nation, or help small businesses and their employees better compete and grow.”
Karen Kerrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond Keating, email@example.com
SBE Council is a nonpartisan advocacy, research and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For nearly 30 years, SBE Council has worked on and advanced a range of private sector and public policy initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem for strong startup activity and small business growth. Visit www.sbecouncil.org for additional information. Twitter: @SBECouncil