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  • Writer's pictureRadina Stereva

AI technology and its significance in the growth of the NGO sector

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the world fundamentally, including profoundly changing the work of activism and philanthropy. Although AI is not a new tool, it has recently become increasingly commercially available and easy to use. Our article "Key Trends and Innovations in the Civil Sector for 2024: What Changes Can We Expect?" mentioned that AI is not a new concept. In the last year or two, however, generative AI has become increasingly important daily. "Generative AI is a variety that works with large language models and is capable of creating new content - i.e., something that didn't exist before" (quote from Nikola Tulecki, founder of Data for Good).


Chatbots such as Open AI ChatGPT, Google Gemini, Microsoft Copilot, and others, even in their free publicly available versions, are increasingly capable of abstract thinking. These generative AI apps can translate jokes and humor from one language to another, reflect on fiction text, interpret whether a joke is funny and why it's funny, react to a funny picture, and much more.


The emergence of these model programs, which can converse with a user in natural language, allows even the most ordinary users to communicate with AI. A human can formulate a conversation with a chatbot like any other ordinary human. This is the big breakthrough—AI takes on an actual image and likeness of us.


How is Artificial Intelligence (AI) defined?


Let's look at what AI is and how it is defined. There is no one-size-fits-all definition of artificial intelligence (AI), but most are similar. We'll use a definition from Coursera, which describes AI as computer systems capable of performing complex tasks that historically a human could perform—thinking, making decisions, or solving problems. Generative chatbots such as ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and Microsoft Copilot complement these definitions and put a new "scale" in the world of AI.


Today, behind the term "AI" lies a wide range of technologies that power many of the services and goods we use every day—from apps that recommend TV shows to chatbots that provide real-time customer support.


AI's role is modernizing and facilitating our work, but the discussion about the ethical perspective of use and the need for (self-)regulation is becoming increasingly relevant. With the flow of information, resources, and technological advancement, professionals in the civil sector strive for ethical use of all available online material and play an essential role in how this technology is disseminated and used.




 


The potential unforeseen consequences of AI developments may pose new threats to the security of our personal data. For example, uncontrolled use of AI could lead to serious security breaches and cyber-attacks. This is why the European Commission is working on legislation to regulate AI—the process is well advanced, and the EP is expected to vote at any moment on a directive to come into force this spring.


Before formal regulatory measures are in place, the responsibility for dealing with potential unintended consequences falls heavily on those using the technology. Promoting the responsible use of artificial intelligence through transparency and ethics in developing and applying AI technologies is important. Training, monitoring, investigations, and publicizing practices such as deep fakes and discriminatory behavior arising from algorithms are just some of the practices for the ethical and smooth implementation of AI that civil society organizations, activists, and educational institutions can provide.


The battle in artificial intelligence is getting more intense, with tech giants competing to develop more sophisticated tools to compete with OpenAI. This model is known among the general public and is preferred for mass use.


The debate about the potential unintended consequences of artificial intelligence development is essential, but the positive initiatives of OpenAI should also be highlighted. The OpenAI and ChatGTP partnership seeks to develop and offer various intelligent solutions.


The OpenAI platform focuses on creating an open environment that fosters collaboration and shares knowledge and resources in research and development. This partnership aims to provide innovative solutions that advance the field of artificial intelligence and meet society's needs.


On 03 March, the first Bulgarian analog of the chatbot platform with artificial intelligence ChatGPT appeared. It is called BgGPT and was developed by specialists from the INSAIT research institute at Sofia University. This AI platform is the first one open in Bulgarian language and is available free of charge for Bulgarian users.


BgGPT is designed to provide an opportunity for interaction in the Bulgarian language and to be used by different audiences in Bulgaria. The platform aims to improve communication with users regarding their questions and requirements and expand artificial intelligence's possibilities in the Bulgarian online space.


For more information about the bot itself and the new horizons of artificial intelligence, read the article by Nikola Tulecki, Data for Good Association, in the Telegraph.


Having mentioned some examples of affordable applications, we would also like to highlight the positive sides of AI technologies. We believe that they can not only enhance but also support the development efforts of the causes and organizations that work with them without causing overwhelming fear.



Here are some useful applications of AI in the work of civil society organizations:

  • Artificial intelligence to increase giving (discovering the connection between causes and donors, advising donors on strategic investments, researching donor interests and giving patterns, generating reports, identifying potential donors, and improving donor communication)


  • Predicting trends and needs (forecasting trends in giving and beneficiary outreach, analyzing large amounts of data using algorithms, identifying opportunities to collaborate with other organizations, donors, or private companies)


  • Monitoring large datasets (e.g., for "hate speech") In his interview with the Telegraph, Tulecki mentions just such an example of how chatbots can identify hate speech on social networks. The bot is trained by being fed many messages containing hate speech to recognize this type of expression.


  • Reducing the workload of project preparation (WARNING! AI cannot replace the original idea; it needs analysis and expert work with people. However, it can reduce the time spent synthesizing texts, translations, etc. Human editing and authentic ideas are always required for successful writing projects).


 

Our foundation organized a special webinar with digital marketer Ina Toncheva as a guest. Ina is very active and takes on various activities, from speaking in the podcast "Bear Fear, Not Me" to mentoring in multiple events and activities. She is also the co-founder of The Indigitals, a strategic marketing company for technology companies.


New aspects have emerged related to artificial intelligence's benefits and ways of everyday use. Ina mentioned that artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT or BART are ideal for improving marketing campaigns for nonprofits and foundations. The key is to use such platforms as assistants to help in the process.


We have already discussed that these platforms have the intellectual capacity to communicate in different languages, including English, and have a large database that continues to grow. According to Ina, this provides an opportunity for professionals to 'interrogate' or generate more creative ideas with chat in less time. The chatbot aids this brainstorming process by providing it with the steps to plan the execution of the marketing campaign.



What are these steps?


1. Set a clear goal: Before you start, specify your specific goal. Specify the problem and the main details of the case.


2. Limit Criticism: It is important to avoid criticizing suggestions during idea generation. The goal is to stimulate more ideas and revive those that will help develop the organization.


3. Competition and dominant countries. Artificial intelligence systems, such as ChatGPT or BART, can analyze publicly available information about competitors and extract key aspects of their successful practices. This can include understanding their target audiences, the marketing channels they use, the content they generate, and their innovative approaches to communication.


4. Influencers. By analyzing social media and other online platforms, artificial intelligence systems can identify relevant influencers that significantly impact the organization's target audience. By analyzing engagement and influence data, we can determine exactly how influencers can be triggered within a marketing campaign.


5. Choosing appropriate communication channels is essential for successfully disseminating marketing messages. Artificial intelligence systems can help analyze audience data and identify the most effective communication channels to reach audiences. This includes online channels such as social media and emails and offline channels such as events and printed materials. It is essential to choose channels that are most relevant to the target audience and can provide maximum visibility and influence for the marketing campaign.


These steps are an important lesson that Ina shared with us. Using artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT or similar platforms should not lead us to fear or refuse to experiment. Instead, we should see them as tools that expand our creativity and capacity for exploration.


And instead of an ending...


AI chatbots cannot replace our unique persona and style of expression. Our authenticity and experience are what make our communication with our audience so valuable and important. AI systems can help us explore new topics, expand our knowledge, and enrich our communication by providing an additional source of information and inspiration.



"It's important to remember that even though we're working with artificial intelligence, we stay behind every communication we generate. Our personality, experience and unique voice are always at the heart of everything we create. So even when we use technology, we remain the final editors to shape the content so it can interact effectively with the audience," says Ina.

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