Tuesday, June 4, 2024

what the robots are doing for social impact

No-one can have missed the growing interest and debates surrounding the potential, risks, impacts, and future of AI in all aspects of our lives.

But an area where I’m yet to see any significant debate happening is to do with something I've been involved in since the 1990s - social value and social impact.

I’m aware that AI is already touching my business and work, having had a client share with me in December last year how they fed my face, and aspects of things about how I work that they particularly enjoy and appreciate, into their generative AI to create the image for their Christmas card. And whilst working with the social value team in a national firm recently, the conversation of how they might use AI to make better use of their time in understanding the needs of different communities came up.

But rather than just think about how I might use AI in how I manage my business' activities (which, to my perspective, is the overarching narrative to all conversations I currently see and hear on this topic), I want to explore more how the promises and potential of AI can help better inform how we think about, approach, and ultimately deliver and achieve positive impacts through how we work and act. 

As a 'starters for 10', I turned to ChatGBT with my first question:

"how can AI be used to support the creation of social impact and social value?"

to which, the robot replied:

"AI can be a powerful tool for creating social impact and value in various ways:

  1. Healthcare: AI can be used to improve healthcare outcomes by analyzing large datasets to identify trends and patterns in diseases, assisting in early diagnosis, and personalizing treatment plans. AI-powered telemedicine platforms can also provide healthcare access to remote or underserved areas.

  2. Education: AI can personalize learning experiences for students by adapting content and pacing to individual needs and learning styles. It can also provide tutoring and assistance to students, especially in subjects where there are shortages of human teachers.

  3. Environmental Sustainability: AI can help monitor and manage environmental resources more efficiently. For example, it can analyze satellite data to track deforestation, predict natural disasters, optimize energy usage, and manage water resources.

  4. Social Services: AI can assist in improving access to social services by streamlining administrative processes, identifying individuals in need, and predicting demand for services. It can also help detect and prevent fraud in social welfare programs.

  5. Disaster Response and Management: AI can aid in disaster preparedness and response by analyzing data from various sources to predict and mitigate the impact of natural disasters. It can also assist in coordinating relief efforts and allocating resources effectively during emergencies.

  6. Poverty Alleviation: AI can support poverty alleviation efforts by analyzing socioeconomic data to identify areas of need and develop targeted interventions. It can also facilitate financial inclusion by providing access to banking and financial services for underserved populations.

  7. Humanitarian Aid: AI can assist humanitarian organizations in delivering aid more effectively by optimizing supply chains, identifying vulnerable populations, and predicting refugee movements.

  8. Accessibility: AI-driven technologies can improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities by providing tools such as speech recognition, natural language processing, and computer vision to facilitate communication and interaction with digital devices.

  9. Public Safety: AI can enhance public safety by analyzing data to identify crime hotspots, predict criminal activity, and optimize the deployment of law enforcement resources. It can also assist in disaster response and emergency management.

  10. Crisis Counseling and Mental Health Support: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide round-the-clock support for individuals experiencing mental health issues or crises, offering resources, guidance, and empathy.

Overall, AI has the potential to address some of the most pressing social challenges by augmenting human capabilities, improving decision-making, and optimizing resource allocation. However, it's crucial to ensure that AI systems are developed and deployed ethically, transparently, and inclusively to maximize their positive impact on society."

What I'm taking from this response, is that the machines currently think that their role will help automate various practices that already exist and we already use, and in doing so, might offer quicker insights and understanding for us to make better decisions with. But ultimately, it's not able to do anything that we're not already doing... Also, that AI itself is 'aware' that we shouldn't blindly adopt it wholesale, but take careful and measured approaches in experimenting with it, and be careful to make sure that it doesn't end up only being a resource that those who have means already will be able to benefit from.

But what do others think? Have I mis-read ChatGBT's response above, as to how it sees its role in advancing social impact and value, or is there another (better) question I should be asking it?

This is a topic I'm going to be exploring over this coming year where I see opportunity to, and will be sharing my reflections both ongoing in my blog here, and also in my next annual impact report on myself.

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