Nonprofits Governing Powerful Technologies Responsibly Part 4

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In this edition, we’re about to explore how the nonprofit sector can be the superhero in the AI story, ensuring these powerful tools don’t go rogue.

As nonprofits, we’re the guardians of social good, and its high time we flex our ethical muscles in the AI arena. Let’s unpack how we can align AI with our core values, turning potential pitfalls into opportunities for positive change. Trust me, by the end of this, you’ll be ready to lead the charge in making AI work for good – nonprofit style!

Pillar #4 Upholding Core Values

When it comes to the responsible use of AI, it’s critical for nonprofits to be intentional about aligning the technology with their core values and mission from the very start. Simply implementing the tools without thought can lead to unintended consequences that go against what the organization stands for.

That’s why taking a thoughtful approach to defining ethical principles and guidelines is so important.

The Nonprofit AI Auditing and Assessment Toolkit provides a great jumpstart for smaller organizations. It guides nonprofits to:

  • Articulate ethical AI principles
  • Map how these principles connect to the organization’s mission
  • Evaluate whether AI capabilities uphold those principles in practice

The following are some examples of AI Principles for a Nonprofit:

  • Ensure AI systems use inclusive and equitable training data and outputs.
  • Use AI to enhance access and opportunities for underserved communities.
  • Require human experts to validate AI outputs.
  • Protect user privacy and data security.
  • Maintain transparency in AI decision-making processes.
  • Regularly audit AI systems for bias and unintended consequences.
  • Align AI use with the organization’s mission and values.
  • Prioritize ethical considerations over efficiency gains.
  • Foster ongoing education about AI within the organization and community.

With those ethical AI principles clearly defined, you can then rigorously audit whether specific AI tools align with those tenets – both during initial vetting and through ongoing monitoring. This value-alignment exercise should be a core part of any AI governance framework.

If you need a bit more information, here are several resources that can help you develop AI governance, including:

  • Microsoft AI for Humanitarian Action
  • IBM AI for Good
  • Salesforce AI
  • Google’s AI for Social Good

The key is being proactive about instilling your organization’s ethics and principles into your AI governance model from the ground up.

The top principles that need to be defined:

  • Clearly articulating your ethical AI principles
  • Defining processes for auditing AI vendor tools against those principles
  • Establishing community oversight and feedback mechanisms
  • Developing methods for ongoing monitoring and value-locking as AI evolves

Small to mid-sized nonprofits may have leaner resources but you can still take pragmatic steps to uphold your core values through ethical AI governance. The key is making it a priority from the start – don’t treat it as an afterthought.

Responsible AI adoption requires proactive value-alignment and community-driven accountability.

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Pillar #5 Becoming an Ethical AI Leader

When it comes to shaping the responsible development of artificial intelligence, nonprofits have a pivotal opportunity to position themselves as ethical leaders and driving forces for positive change.

Think about it – you’re on the frontlines of advancing social good and advocating for the rights of underserved communities. Ensuring AI technologies uphold the principles of equity, accountability and human-centeredness is quite literally part of your missions.

That’s why it’s so critical for nonprofits, regardless of size, to get proactive about collaborating across the sector and with other nonprofits to spearhead ethical AI governance frameworks. You simply can’t afford to let these world-shaping tools proliferate without a unified voice championing responsible development.

But beyond self-regulation, nonprofits are also uniquely positioned to drive public education and multi-stakeholder collaboration on ethical AI. You’ve unparalleled grassroots connections to impacted communities whose voices need to be represented.

For nonprofits, that could look like leading workshops with service populations, donors, volunteers and more to map out shared AI principles. Or launching awareness campaigns to promote AI literacy and demystify these powerful technologies.

The key is recognizing your role as trusted institutions and using that social capital to push the broader AI ethics conversation in a more equitable, inclusive direction.

We simply can’t leave it to the private sector to self-govern.

So, let’s get proactive about spearheading partnerships, developing AI ethics curricula, advocating for regulatory reforms and more. The future of ethical AI depends on nonprofit leadership helping shape a human-centered roadmap from the ground up.

You owe it to the communities you serve to be proactive stewards and champions for responsible AI that reflects your core values. It’s perhaps the most important frontier for driving positive societal impact in the decades ahead.

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Collect your dot…

As we’ve explored, the rise of artificial intelligence presents nonprofits with incredible opportunities to amplify your impact – but also profound ethical challenges you simply cannot ignore. The stakes are too high when it comes to upholding the core values and missions that make the social sector so vital.

Just imagine the ramifications if we fail as a sector to get ethical AI governance right from the start. Unchecked, these technologies could perpetuate societal biases, erode stakeholder trust, and even undermine the very justice and equity we’re striving to create.

Privacy violations exposing vulnerable communities’ data. Discriminatory algorithms restricting access to critical services. Lack of accountability leading to AI tools causing real-world harms with no recourse. These aren’t hypothetical risks – we’re already seeing these types of consequences play out.

That’s why small and mid-sized nonprofits have a moral obligation to be proactive stewards and champions for responsible development of AI. You can’t afford to be passive bystanders while world-shaping technologies proliferate unguided.

The good news? You’re uniquely positioned to drive this ethical evolution from a place of credibility and trust. Your missions inherently align with prioritizing human rights, equity, transparency and accountability as AI matures.

By getting out front in spearheading cross-sector collaborations, developing robust governance frameworks, and advocating for regulatory safeguards – you can help shape AI’s trajectory in a more just, inclusive direction from the ground up.

It starts with each of us implementing rigorous ethical policies, auditing mechanisms, and AI Committee oversight structures tailored to our own AI adoption journeys. But it extends to boldly using your social capital to educate, build multi-stakeholder partnerships, and promote AI literacy.

The path won’t be easy, but you owe it to the communities you serve to be ethical trailblazers on this front. If not us as mission-driven nonprofits, then who will ensure rapidly evolving AI systems uphold our core principles around privacy, equity, accountability and more?