Rural SMEs are generally at a digital disadvantage due to their size and location. The addition of AI to many business processes has the potential to minimize the existing divide. However, without access to this technology and its responsible usage, Rural SMEs could be placed at a more significant disadvantage. To understand the current situation we conducted interviews with Rural SMEs and related stakeholders. This paper draws on Activity Theory to develop a holistic understanding of the influence AI is having on the business processes of rural SMEs. We also consider the role of AI in terms of the existing digital divide frameworks, as well as the newly proposed fourth wave that captures the novel forms of disadvantage AI can perpetuate.


Paper Number 1123; Track Sustainability; Complete Paper


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