How non-profits are using artificial intelligence to make impactful change
What comes to mind when you think about artificial intelligence (AI)? Maybe it’s the latest craze of avatar-like selfies generated by the controversial Lensa app. Or the rumour that a Google scientist claims that AI robots are sentient. Whatever your take on AI, it is an ever-evolving and intriguing space.
AI is defined (on Wikipedia) as:
“the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”
It exists in everyday life, and more seamlessly than you may think: self-driving cars, virtual assistants, Alexa and Siri, to name a few examples. In digital marketing, you’ll see AI in social media monitoring, targeted advertising, image recognition and personalised emails. Companies like Amazon are invested in AI technology and have already gone as far as using robots in their packaging facilities.
While people may worry that AI could disrupt the job market, or wonder how it might affect privacy, the flipside of all that is that it also has the potential to make a positive and impactful change.
A great example of this is how non-profits are using chatbots to create a safe space for vulnerable groups.
Like Big Sis – the chatbot created by Girl Effect. Girl Effect recognised the increased use of messaging apps and how that opened up the ability to connect with young girls wanting to learn more about sexual health in a safe, judgement-free way. This meant they could navigate beyond the school, family or social media environments, where misinformation and stigmas are common.
AI technology has meant that Big Sis’s persona could be created through thousands of conversations submitted to the chatbot, allowing it to answer questions with 87% accuracy.
Another life-changing chatbot is rAInbow, built to help combat the loneliness, fear and uncertainty that many survivors of domestic violence suffer.
The AI for good and rAInbow chatbot reported the following alarming stats:
- 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Globally.
- On average, a survivor attempts to leave seven times before finally leaving.
- Communities or neighbourhoods providing more cohesion, support, and trust are more likely to have more cases being reported.
The rAInbow chatbot is called Bo. It offers specialised content that is available to help identify the signs of abuse and offers free legal information. Crucially, it is accessible to users on the weekend, when there is a significant rise in abuse cases. What makes it such a safe “space” for users is the fact that their information and interaction with Bo are completely anonymous and digital.
rAInbow takes things one step further with Bo by using the chatbot data to develop relationships with frontline workers. This data can assist policy makers, law enforcement agencies, and civil society to deliver services that are more user-oriented.
Wherever the future of AI goes, we hope it continues to be used as a tool for impactful change.
This quote by Ganes Kesari sums up the sentiment of AI in the nonprofit space:
“AI is not — and should not — be reserved for only the most profitable enterprises. It can help drive innovation within NGOs and help solve many of the toughest environmental and social problems we face today.”