Artificial Intelligence Does Not Equal Artificial Relationships

We hear the term everywhere now...”AI”, it’s becoming ever more the hot topic in the nonprofit world. The secret that has boosted the success of for-profit companies for so long is now making its arrival in the non-profit sector in a big way.

The potential is endless; streamlined and personalized donor communications, greater insights into campaign performance and more effective donor targeting.  These are just a few reasons why AI is the answer to so many fundraising woes. AI can even track and use constituent engagement to give fundraisers the ability to target constituents based on where they will have the most connection.

Artificial Intelligence by nature of its creation is not an entity that is separate from human nature. What matters in fact are the ethics and human decisions behind it.  Science has shown that we feel before we think, and that we often act on emotion before we know why.

The creation and implementation of artificial Intelligence is accomplished by humans. Humans with emotions and an instinctive state of mind that stems from their relationships with others. We create what we know, and our creations are a reflection of ourselves. Just as an artist creates a visual depiction of passion, a data scientist will build AI with the same human passion to deliver on what they have been tasked to do.

And if the man or woman behind the algorithm is any good at all, they know clearly what they have been tasked with. They know that they have been tasked with the overarching goal of developing a tool to increase the funds for the organizations that have the most potential to impact the world around them.

So why then is the term so scary? Well, when people see machines that respond like humans, or computers that perform feats of strategy and cognition, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to think that someday we could have a robot overlord uprising...does it?

Buried in the jokes surrounding the conflict of humans and AI is a seed of unease. Science-fiction writing and popular movies have speculated that artificial intelligence could escape the control of its creators, eventually outcompeting and enslaving humans.

However, fears that AI will develop awareness and overthrow humanity are grounded in misconceptions of what AI is. AI operates under very specific limitations defined by the algorithms that dictate its behavior.  

AI with the right people and intentions behind it is truly beneficial for humanity. We need to understand first what our values are so we can understand how best to use these technologies. AI systems that are designed so that their goals and recommendations emulate human values are the future of fundraising. Organizations that don't know that should figure it out quickly.