5 Quick Facts about Artificial Intelligence that Nonprofits Shouldn't Ignore

November 18, 2019  |  Richard Gabrintina

First off—what exactly is AI? 

Simply defined, AI is any program that simulates human intelligence. AI is divided into two categories: strong AI (also known as artificial general intelligence or AGI) and weak AI (also known as narrow AI). Today’s common forms of AI — such as smart assistant technology, autonomous driving, and automated data processing — fall under the latter.

Artificial Intelligence








Why is it significant?

Although it's been a common subject of science fiction and corporate buzz for the past decade, AI is no longer a hypothetical solution to our problems; it's here and it’s not going away. It doesn't look quite like you may have seen it depicted in 2013’s Her or look like any of the dystopian episodes of Black Mirror (thankfully), but it is still slowly revolutionizing the way we work. AI technology is making work more efficient and life a bit easier for humans. The corporate sector isn’t the only area that can reap the benefits of AI; nonprofits stand to benefit greatly as well. What are the potential benefits of AI? 

Here are some of the ways AI is changing the game.

In 2017, PwC surveyed consumers, experts, and business execs to discover their predictions about how AI will impact their worlds. These are a few of their findings:

  1. Synthesizing large amounts of data to help solve complex problems. When surveyed, roughly ⅔ of consumers believe that AI will help solve difficult problems such as climate change, economic growth, global health, and information security. 

  2. Allowing human time to be spent more meaningfully, in both work and play. Using AI to automate simple tasks (such as paperwork, scheduling, accounting, and email management) means that a human's workday can be spent focused on the strategic and creative work that they enjoy, as well as creating more free time outside of work. 70% of executives believe that AI has the potential to enable their employees to concentrate on meaningful work, as well as indulge in more leisure activities. 

  3. Equalizing access to resources. More than half of consumers believe AI will provide educational help to disadvantaged schoolchildren. Over 40% also believe AI will expand access to financial, medical, legal, and transportation services to those with lower incomes.

  4. Increasing the personalization of customer assistance and information. When it comes to customer service, the line between humans and bots has already been blurred. In fact, 27% of consumers surveyed weren’t sure if their last customer service interaction was with a human or a chatbot. Additionally, 60% agreed that AI can reduce the time it takes to get answers while still being highly tailored to their preferences, and 38% agreed that AI can offer a “superior one-to-one personalized experience."

  5. Building better management. Many business execs see the potential for AI managers to improve life for employees. The majority believe employees wouldn’t mind working with an AI manager if it meant more flexibility and freedom to work from home (71%) and if it meant a more balanced workload (64%).

While there are still many valid concerns about the advance of AI and what it will mean for humans' work and personal lives, current forms of AI that allow for increased personalization and automation are already bringing these benefits to nonprofits. Looking for more information on how to understand and optimize AI technology for your organization? Check out our downloadable Nonprofit Guide to AI!