First off: it’s me, Jennifer. Really. Not ChatGPT. There are still things a human being does better than AI (like forming relatable sentences). But today, I want to talk about why we need to take AI seriously and the ways it can actually improve our ability to serve our chosen clients and causes.
1. AI isn’t as new or out there as you think. If you talk to Siri, if you take advantage of autocomplete in Google search, if you use Spotify DJ, if you notice an eerie similarity in all your Instagram ads — you’ve interacted with AI. “AI” is simply any program that, when fed new information, learns and hones its predictive abilities based on that information — as when it studied Eminem’s voice, cadences, and rhyming style to create original audio of Eminem rapping about cats. It studies the collective portrait formed by the minutiae of our lives, our interactions, and our transactions and constantly revises its view of the world based on that.
2. AI can help us do our jobs better. AI can process and synthesize much more information than any of us can individually (ChatGPT’s brain is the internet!) — shortening the steps to reach consensus and shared understanding on many topics. Its recall power far outweighs our own. And it’s constantly becoming more sophisticated in the ways it can translate and respond to our thoughts, wishes, and intentions without the need for complicated inputs. Using AI as a brainstorming tool can broaden and introduce possibilities that a group of humans alone might not think of. It can break down barriers to creativity by joining and enhancing our shared intelligence.
3. The way we interact with it will change. We already talk to many AIs in our everyday lives, but imagine being able to code by voice or ask for the toplines of a complicated report without having to dig through Excel. Or, imagine being able to simply ask a website for information rather than comb through its various subpages. As AI increases its grasp of natural language, it’s possible we’re all going to begin talking more at the office — even in the era of remote work! Our machine interactions will become more like conversations than a strict hierarchy of human commanding and machine obeying. Machines will become active collaborators in how we generate and interpret information.
4. It still has its limits. The aspects of AI that grab the headlines tend to be negative: deep fakes, racist algorithms, and more. What’s more, ChatGPT can only scrape web content until about 2021; some of its information isn’t current. By no means can we walk away and let the machines babysit themselves.
At the end of the day, the internet is still a human creation subject to human biases, AI will share those biases, just like a kid whose only exposure is to the books in the public library — if certain books are restricted or banned, the kid won’t know. For example, I wouldn’t leave hiring exclusively up to an AI because I would worry about it failing at the tasks that require more human discernment — recognizing its own learned biases and assumptions, reading between the lines, weighing certain personality or résumé strengths against others, or predicting how a new hire might fit within a team. Those are still tasks for humans, as is the task of ensuring the information fed to AI is inclusive, accurate, and free of racism and propaganda (another similarity to raising children).
5. AI is here to stay. It’s already impacting the way we work, think, and pursue our missions. From improved captioning and image generation to streamlining web development, there are many ways nonprofits and campaigns can already take advantage of added machine intelligence to get the job done faster and better — conserving human mental resources for the things that matter.
It’s never going to replace humans, but what I’m most excited about is how it can help us humans concentrate on what we do best.
Here at DBT, we’re excited about AI. We’re not afraid. We see its powerful applications, we see its flaws and its extension of human biases, and we say: bring it on. Technology is only as good as the humans who adopt it. So let’s use it to become the best we can be.