Proceeding responsibly - Lightful’s approach to generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Vinay Nair
24 Jul 2023

At Lightful, our commitment to supporting nonprofits in their mission to do the greatest good drives our exploration of the latest technological advancements.

We believe nonprofits should approach the ever-evolving landscape of technology with a healthy dose of scepticism, just as we do, avoiding the allure of novelty without careful consideration. For instance, we are keeping a watchful eye rather than integrating with areas like the Metaverse and Digital Currencies.

However, our perspective on artificial intelligence (AI) is different. We have been engaging with AI for several years, such as offering nonprofits a machine-learning enabled feature that suggests the ‘best time to post’ social content. With the recent advancement of generative AI, we believe there is greater applicability and genuine potential to support nonprofits be more “tech enabled,” helping create more impact in a world urgently in need of it.

With that noted, one of the most significant risks of AI centres around trust; and how AI can be used to further exacerbate already low levels of trust across society.

We will work to tackle this head on. Our approach to generative AI is to proceed with an ethical framework that is focused on:

  • Building trust
  • Building equity
  • Building responsibly

One of our underpinning Lightful Values is: “We build trust.” This is done by being authentic, empathetic and logical - which our sector does in abundance. We want to co-create, test and deliver AI-powered tools and training that help our nonprofit partners to increase the amount of authenticity, empathy and logic they share in their stories and work with long-term relationships and stakeholders.

Our approach is also captured by a sense of “machine usefulness” - that nonprofit professionals who are equipped with the right AI tools, skills and support can accomplish more than those without. It is about creating additional capacity, not about taking it away.

What’s more, we will always deliver our work through an equity lens; we want to ensure small, proximate organisations avail of AI-enabled capacity-building – because it will truly build their capacity and resilience. Benefits must flow across all of civil society and not just be held in the hands of the largest players.

The field is developing quickly and it is vital that all of us working to build more civil society proceed responsibly and collaborate on vital areas such as privacy, security, bias and regulation. Our principles will continue to be informed and inspired by major sector players, such as The Guardian’s approach to generative AI and our close partners at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s first principles guiding their work with AI. We commit to share what we are doing, and learning, with our stakeholders.

Our vision is a future where nonprofits have the power to create more equitable communities and a healthier planet. With the right guardrails created and in place, we believe there is an opportunity to proceed responsibly with AI. We want to see how it can serve as a catalyst for creating more positive change, build more trust and create a brighter future through a more civil society, everywhere.

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