Artificial Intelligence Already In The Nonprofit Space

April 5, 2018       THE NONPROFIT TIMES      

A concept that would have seemed like nothing more than an oxymoron not too long ago is now one that is commonly used: Artificial Intelligence (AI). Considering what passes for intelligence in much of the world, the artificial kind can look rather appealing, but like any trend it can carry its own drawbacks.

In his book “Connect: How Companies Succeed by Engaging Radically with Society,” John Browne, writing with Robin Nuttall and Tommy Stadlen, praises AI but cautions that there are serious risks associated with it.

These risks mean nonprofits should foster open debate about ethical and practical concerns and work closely with government to prepare the workforce for a very different future. The risks include:

  • Paper robot. This refers to, in essence, the delegation of corporate decision-making to intelligent machines by companies that truly do not understand their electronic companions. Computers and software already act in ways we do not understand, possibly causing mistakes humans cannot know about or comprehend. That could get even worse.
  • The jobs compact. The automation of knowledge work raises the possibility that unemployment could rise significantly in specific, politically sensitive parts of the economy. If that happened, the most important bond between companies and the population would be sorely tested.