Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been a hot topic across many industries. Its abilities to increase productivity, proofread content, and “write your cover letters” have enticed many to understand how AI really works. I am here today to briefly explain what AI is, debunk its myths, share current ethical remarks on AI, and share tips on how you, a steward of the anti-sexual violence movement, can benefit from AI in your daily work.
According to the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s definition of AI, “artificial intelligence is a machine’s ability to perform the cognitive functions we usually associate with human minds.” A lot of functions in our everyday lives use AI, from voice assistants, like Siri and Alexa, to customer service chatbots to even CHAT GPT. Similar to the advancement of computers and handheld cellular devices, AI has been entering every industry in our society. It’s time to embrace the positives it has to offer and regulate the negatives it can bring.
There are 5 common misconceptions, credited to Forbes, about AI that should be debunked before moving forward.
- AI is Intelligent – As Forbes puts it, “Intelligence is a property inherent to living creatures – it allows us to learn, communicate, understand, empathize, and make decisions. AI is an attempt to simulate that or create similar results using a machine, but it is still only that…”
- AI is Expensive and Difficult to Implement – Thanks to cloud platforms (like Microsoft) making AI more accessible, AI today is more accessible and affordable than ever before. “Most businesses and organizations that can benefit from using AI have no need to train their own models…the availability of AI services via cloud platforms means that they can be accessed and used at a low cost and without any specialist knowledge or technical skills.”
- AI is Going To Take Jobs From Humans – Although it is true that the advancement of technology has caused inevitable job loss (i.e. mechanization, electrification, digitization, and now automation), history also shows how many more jobs have been created as a result of technological advancement. What’s even more true is that the new jobs are likely to be better paid and of better quality. “In 2020, the World Economic Forum released a report that said while 85 million jobs would be replaced by automation…97 million new opportunities will be created.”
- AI is Neutral and Unbiased – It is important to highlight that “AI algorithms only ‘know’ anything at all because they are trained on data, and this data is often created or curated by humans.” Therefore, the intersecting identities, or the lack thereof, of the human creating the AI will directly impact the way that AI algorithms navigate the world. This is why so many great Women and BIPOC leaders across the globe have taken the front seat in this global discourse.
- AI Will Take Over The World and Enslave Humans – “The absolute truth is that no one knows where AI will lead eventually, and to a large extent, it will come down to how we as humans develop, implement and regulate it.” I appreciate the article highlighting this, as the issue is not AI in the same way that a knife is not a weapon until the user makes it so. AI is a tool. The fear that lies beneath AI and robots taking over the world and “enslaving humans” is derived from the very real enslavement of black and indigenous peoples for centuries. The creators of AI algorithms must have a meaningful and comprehensive understanding of the negative impacts of white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy on technology and society. To reference point #4, AI can only enslave humans if the creator enslaves humans first. AI requires the input of data to produce a desired outcome.
I would argue that the full potential of AI for all people can only be realized when AI technology is developed through an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and anti-violent lens. This approach aligns with the ethos of anti-violence organizations like NJCASA and allied programs. The history of technological advancement often shows its use for oppressive purposes, including war and displacement of vulnerable communities. A pertinent example from New Jersey highlights this concern: students at a high school used AI to create fake explicit images of classmates, as reported by NJ.com. This incident underscores the importance of ethical AI in preventing technology from being wielded as a tool for harm, particularly against women and marginalized groups. Therefore, the global discourse on ethical AI is crucial for the future of BIPOC individuals and technology. Five leaders in AI ethics worth mentioning are Danah Boyd (Partner researcher at Microsoft), Joy Buolamwini (Founder of Algorithmic Justice League), Kay-Firth-Butterfield (Head of AI and ML at the World Economic Forum), Timnit Gebru (Founder of Black in AI), and Alka A. Patel (Head of AI Ethics Policy for the DOD and JAIC). These women, predominantly women of color, dedicate their careers to promoting equitable practices in AI technology development. I highly recommend exploring their autobiographies and the resources below on ethical AI, as they provide invaluable insights into creating technology that benefits everyone equitably.
We have come to understand that AI technology has many capabilities, but how can folx work in the nonprofit sector, more specifically the anti-sexual violence movement, benefit from this multifaceted tool? It is essential to understand that AI cannot and will not reach its full potential without the guidance and leadership of humans. Without humans, there is no AI. Nonprofits should be cautious of the ethical implications of AI and should, first, re-evaluate how the organization functions along with its mission and vision. Like a staff member, the AI tech should align with the organization’s values to get the most out of the tool. Referring to AI experts (i.e. data scientists or machine learning specialists) is a plausible way nonprofits can maximize their AI potential. However, this approach may require extra funding or networking which may not be feasible for nonprofit organizations.
Another way nonprofits can benefit from AI is via automation of tasks. Naketa Jones (MPA, EdD) from Linkedin writes, “By automating repetitive tasks…making more informed decisions, nonprofits can allocate their resources more effectively and achieve their goals more efficiently. However, nonprofits must also be cautious and ensure that they use AI responsibly and ethically.” Having fewer resources as a burned-out staff can pose challenges to productivity. Using AI to automate tasks like creating emails, writing grants, improving reporting, and drafting a speech/longer response can give nonprofits back an abundance of time.
Finally, an important reason why nonprofit workers should take advantage of AI technology is due to the very important fact that folx in the nonprofit sector, especially BIPOC, Neurodivergent/Disabled, and LGBTQIA+ workers, do not get the necessary rest they deserve. This lack of rest was indoctrinated into us by legacies of white supremacy, capitalism, and the patriarchy. AI’s ability to support us in mundane, repetitive, and laborious tasks can and will make more space for workers in the nonprofit sector to rest and turn their attention to more compelling parts of the work. AI can grant us the opportunity to focus on the real needs of the communities we serve and give space for more innovation and human-to-human collaboration in the workplace.
At the end of the day, AI is still growing and learning, just like we are. It was mentioned multiple times throughout this article, but I dare to say it again…without humans, there is no AI. Period. Every AI expert will tell you that humans must collaborate with AI in order to see its full potential. Humans hold the fate of humanity and nature in the palm of their hands. It is up to us to determine what will rule over us next. Or maybe…we can finally work towards a collective rule? Food for thought.
P.S. I hope to turn this piece into a series on AI within the anti-sexual violence movement. Stay tuned for more!
AI for Creatives: Playbook – This PDF teaches you how to utilize the AI platform CHAT GPT to support you in thinking creatively. CHATGPT has been a leader in the race for advanced AI. It has many abilities but, requires input. The PDF is filled with “codes/inputs” that you can copy, paste, and edit to your liking. CHATGPT can support you in a myriad of tasks, from writing email templates to playing the role of difficult funders to creating a strategic plan!
33 Best AI Tools to Boost Productivity in 2023 – This website gives you the 33 best AI tools of 2023. This is a great opportunity to see what is out there, as well as to weigh the pros and cons of each AI tool. One may work better for your line of work than the other! NOTE: some, not all, of the listed tools may require purchasing.
15 Best AI Apps for Android and IOS (Free & Paid) – This is a list of apps that you can download on any Android or IOS cellular device.
CAMO Cemi’no is the Community Engagement Specialist at NJCASA. In addition to contributing to this blog, CÁMO leads NJCASA’s community engagement strategies and works to foster and strengthen partnerships across the state.
“5 Women and BIPOC Leaders in AI” UCB-UMT, Berkeley School of Information, 10 Dec. 2021, ischoolonline.berkeley.edu/blog/artificial-intelligence-bias/#leaders.
“How Artificial Intelligence Bias Affects Women and People of Color.” UCB-UMT, Berkeley School of Information, 10 Dec. 2021, ischoolonline.berkeley.edu/blog/artificial-intelligence-bias/#leaders.
Jones, Naketa. “The Power of AI for Good: How Nonprofits Can Harness Technology to Change the World.” LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/pulse/power-ai-good-how-nonprofits-can-harness-technology-jones-mpa-edd/. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.
Marr, Bernard. “Debunking AI Myths: The Truth Behind 5 Common Misconceptions.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 July 2023, www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2023/07/05/debunking-ai-myths-the-truth-behind-5-common-misconceptions/?sh=3fb7e39b3608.
Martin, Nichols. “Dod’s Alka Patel: Ai Ethics Must Apply to All Military AI Systems.” Executive Gov, Executive Gov , 22 Jan. 2021, executivegov.com/2021/01/dods-alka-patel-ai-ethics-must-apply-to-all-military-ai-systems/.
Rudolph, Shari. “How Nonprofits Can Use AI to Increase Fundraising and Engagement.” Good360, 7 Aug. 2023, good360.org/blog-posts/how-nonprofits-can-use-ai-to-increase-fundraising-and-engagement/#:~:text=Nonprofits%20can%20leverage%20AI%20tools,their%20campaigns%20for%20maximum%20impact.
Stanley-Lockman, Zoe. “CSET – Responsible and Ethical Military AI.” Georgetown.Edu, CSET Issue Brief, cset.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/CSET-Responsible-and-Ethical-Military-AI.pdf. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.
“What Is Ai?” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 24 Apr. 2023, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-ai.
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