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Patois-speaking AI chatbot developed for entrepreneurs

A new chatbot, which uses artificial intelligence to recognise and respond to patois and other languages, will be rolled out next month by a company called AcumenPro Limited will launch a.

Branded as JamChat, its first application will be the ‘Entrepreneur’s Library’, an online resource centre for farmers and entrepreneurs developed by Linkar Education Limited and slated for launch on August 31.

The chatbot’s developer is Dane McGibbon, an engineer and software developer, who says the target markets are agriculture and business students plus farmers.

Frank McGibbon, CEO of Linkar Education and former chairman of the book industry association, JamChat’s first launch partner, describes The Entrepreneur’s Library as a free digital resource created by Linkar in partnership with Jamaica Business Development Corporation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to support the local business community.

Between the JBDC and other data sources: “We have 500,000 persons we believe we can reach between students and the adult population,” Frank McGibbon said.

The chatbot, named The Librarian on Linkar’s platform, will function as an assistant that helps anyone interested in accessing the resources.

The entrepreneurial farming opportunities featured include ginger, Irish potato, greenhouse farming, pepper farming, sheep and goat farming, bee farming, onion production and more.

“Since COVID came, it forced some of the nontraditionals to go online. A typical farmer wants to know inputs needed and possible returns. We are targeting not only traditional farmers but even investors from abroad who need this information,” said McGibbon.

“If we can develop the technical strength of products, it will support consistent supplies for the hotel sector which suffer from boom and bust in farming supplies.”

The Linkar CEO said the Librarian was “not a money-making venture,” but that advertising revenue would cover the cost.

JamChat developer Dane McGibbon said that the artificial intelligence tool was developed to assist companies with productivity.

“JamChat has been a work in progress for several months and was shown at the JPC conference. We intend to offer a wider commercial release by the beginning of Q4 2023,” he said. The Jamaica Productivity Centre confab was held in June.

“There are different ways in improving delivery without heavily investing in set up. It improves on areas of businesses that are heavily repetitive. It leads them directly to it . The chatbot can also be trained. It is highly flexible. It can be a customer service rep or a librarian, as it is in this case,” he added.

JamChat was built specifically for Jamaican businesses, with the ability to communicate in patois, but it can be applied to the Caribbean market, Dane added, “due to it being multilingual (featuring 50-plus languages including patois …”.

“It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5, the same technology that runs ChatGPT. JamChat chatbots are given personalities that are intended to reflect the needs of the organisation while simulating our unique Jamaican cultural persona. It is not intended to replace Jamaican workers but work alongside them, freeing up time for more complex and creative tasks,” he said.

He listed tourism, education, healthcare, government, banking, and retail as sectors that it could be usefully applied.

“I created JamChat specifically because I had difficulty accessing information from these organisations and knew there was a more efficient way,” said the tech developer.

By some estimates, he added, the operational cost savings from using chatbots in banking, retail, and healthcare will reach US$11 billion globally by the end of 2023, up from an estimated US$209 million in 2019.

Its estimated that chatbots will save businesses 862 million hours, globally, equivalent to nearly half a million working years.

“Another estimate suggested that the annual cost savings derived from the adoption of chatbots in healthcare would reach US$3.6 billion globally by 2022, up from an estimated US$2.8 million in 2017. This is mainly due to the reduction of unnecessary visits to doctors or emergency rooms, as well-trained chatbots that can provide diagnosis, treatment, and medication advice,” said Dane.

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