Trust in AI is integral to promoting adoption of the technology by SMEs, according to comments made by the UK’s tech minister, Saqib Bhatti. 

In a 2023 GlobalData survey, around 20% of businesses stated that they already had a moderate level of AI adoption in their workflows.

Despite the rising ubiquity of AI, more than 40% of businesses answered that they only partially understood how AI works. 

To promote the safe use of AI by businesses, especially in SMEs, Bhatti stated that building public trust in the emerging technology is essential to its success. 

“Obviously the demand [for AI] is there and we as a government obviously recognise there’s risks there as well,” he stated. 

Bhatti comments were in response to a report from Enterprise Nation, which identified that AI safety concerns were the main barriers preventing UK SMEs from adopting the technology. 

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Enabling SMEs to use AI could positively impact the economy as leaders and workforces have more time to focus their efforts on growing their business, thanks to the automation of clerical tasks by AI. 

While AI can help SMEs manage their time more efficiently, the CEO of sustainable software company AdSignal, Tom Dunning, stated that companies need to consider the environmental impact of using AI. 

“The reality is that most businesses using AI don’t actually need to use AI, they just jump on it because it is the latest trend,” he stated.

“The network traffic that results from AI and the training of large language models has already had a detrimental effect on the environment and this will only rise exponentially while awareness remains low and more businesses blindly jump on the AI trends,” he added.

Dunning said governments should work alongside the tech industry to help reduce AI’s carbon footprint before irreversible damage occurs.