An AI evangelist urges BIPOC people and businesses to push past fear and embrace new technologies

todayFebruary 13, 2024

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Entrepreneur Akiyemi Bajulaye saw a need to evolve his company Pentridge Manor, which focused on social media marketing and editing, as soon as generative artificial intelligence took the world by storm. So he knows firsthand the importance of other entrepreneurs and individuals to stay ahead of the curve in this game-shifting technology arena. 


One of the earliest realizations Bajulaye had that AI could turbocharge his business is when he was able to optimize production of a podcast that drove business results.


“I hosted a podcast for about four years that I was doing the editing for. I would cut down the amount of time I would spend on post-production by 60 or 70 percent,” Bajulaye said during an interview with WURD Radio’s Tonya Pendleton on Reality Check. “That encouraged me to lean more into this AI space and everything happening with those technologies.” 


Once Bajulaye realized these gains for himself, he decided to incorporate AI services and education into his business to empower other small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) so they could also benefit from increased productivity. 


He not only leveraged the power of AI for his own business, but he has become an evangelist of sorts, emphasizing whenever he can that a reactionary fear of AI can actually backfire against the people who stand to benefit most. 


“I have a very balanced perspective on this…with anything new, it’s important to do the research and have a healthy skepticism,” he said. “But throughout history, we have seen these technological shifts, whether it was back in the Industrial Revolution or in the dot-com era,” Bajulaye said. While many fear the impact that AI will have on employment, “not enough of us are looking at it from the standpoint of how can this enhance what I am currently doing – how can this propel me and help me grow.”


In fact, the tendency for skeptical or fearful people, especially BIPOC people, to withdraw from technological advancements reinforces the fact that a small number of people are making decisions about how new tech is deployed and are the ones shaping its development. In a diverse population, technology shaped by a handful of members – none of whom represent diverse perspectives – will not serve the interests of those who are already underrepresented in tech. 


“This is something that we’ve seen throughout history. And part of that is because our perspectives and our diversity isn’t being taken into consideration,” Bajulaye said. “We are not part of the conversation. That’s when I push and said that we need to lean into this.”


It’s not just becoming part of conversations, however. Bajulaye told Pendleton and WURD listeners that AI tools right now are customizable to fit the needs and interests of the people using them. 


For example, someone who wants to improve their fitness can “train” the popular ChatGPT tool in what their fitness goals are, any limitations they have, preferred workout styles and more criteria. A new customization feature that ChatGPT just introduced will automatically connect the individual with YouTube workouts that serve their needs. Serving up customized workouts can lead to positive behavior change. 


“Developers and non-developers can create custom GPTs…for a very specific task. What’s interesting is that it enables you to connect ChatGPT with third-party applications,” Bajulaye said. In this way, people who embrace AI tools can already create experiences that serve their specific interests.


“Artificial intelligence isn’t even something that’s necessarily new,” he said. “Amazon Alexa or Siri on your are forms of AI., Zapier and even Grammarly are helpful tools that can enhance people’s productivity. “ChatGPT is one of the reference points, but there are other tools that are worth looking at.”

This article and interview were made possible with support from the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund. 


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Written by: Ashanti Martin

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