What Exactly is AI and What Does it Mean for Social Justice?

As a writer and performer, my passion is really about creating nonfiction, highly personal stories and updates that really resonate with the people who read my stuff or see me on stage. As a business owner, I’m grateful to have a team of talented folks whose collective expertise helps run the company, including producing informative resources like the ones that appear here.

Twanna Hines

At this point, we have all heard about the dangers and potential of artificial intelligence (AI). As a Black woman-owned tech businesses dedicated to promoting sexual and reproductive health, we are most interested in understanding — and sharing with others — how AI could emerge as a powerful force for change.

As you may already know, our firm specifically seeks to address sexual and reproductive health through nine impact areas

  • arts for social change
  • civic engagement & voting rights
  • climate justice
  • food security
  • healthcare
  • human rights
  • immigration justice
  • income & employment
  • racial justice

We have developed AI-powered automation for nonprofits to help them manage their workloads better. We have also helped small businesses use AI for business optimization and growth. As a digital firm committed to progressive values, we know the AI movement and how people use it to effect change matters to use. So, let’s get into it.

How Should We Think Differently About AI?

AI, often misunderstood as “artificial” intelligence, is far from being faultless or independent. It’s a human-made technology; like all creations, it carries both potential and pitfalls. Voice recognition (Amazon’s Alexa device), facial recognition (Apple’s Face ID), and language translation tools are examples of AI applications that have brought convenience to our lives. Yet, they also exhibit biases, reflecting the imperfections of their creators. Although most people are familiar with the convenience use cases for AI, there are instances where it could actually affect lives.

How Could AI Transform Sexual Health?

AI-powered solutions are breaking down barriers to accessing reproductive health services. For instance, AI chatbots like Girl Effect’s “Big Sis” are being used to connect individuals with the nearest healthcare centers and provide essential information about sexual and reproductive health. This innovation is crucial in regions with limited resources, enabling wider access to essential services and information. Additionally, AI models have shown promise in detecting cervical cancer, improving accuracy and speed in diagnosis, and facilitating timely treatment. 

The use of AI in predicting and managing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could also really be a groundbreaking step toward reducing health disparities. Research has shown that predictive models can enhance STI detection, reporting, and treatment — all of this could contribute to better healthcare outcomes for all individuals. AI could also help ensure timely interventions and more accurate predictions. (It would do this by leveraging AI algorithms, as demonstrated in studies like The Lancet’s STI prediction research; though, of course, data access and other ethical questions arise.)

AI’s Current Impact on Social Justice

In addition to gross and well-known biases in facial recognition technologies, here are a few others areas we’ve been watching very closely:

  • Economic Disenfranchisement: Algorithmic bias in hiring and promotion perpetuates racism and sexism, leading to unequal economic outcomes. This issue is particularly relevant to our commitment to income and employment equality. This is why we are eager to highlight and partner with organizations that udnersatnd the urgent need to address these biases.
  • Mental Health Challenges: Developing and maintaining AI systems, especially those requiring content screening, can affect workers’ mental health. Instances of outsourcing content moderation to other regions — increasingly in the global south — have led to mental health concerns, underscoring the importance of ethical AI development practices. According to a TIME exclusive, OpenAI’s exploitation of Kenyan workers left many mentally scarred from work.
  • Fair Compensation for Labor: We already see examples of poor compensation with the 2023 Writers Guild Strike. The exploitation of AI to generate profits without compensating individuals for their contributions raises even further ethical questions. Cases, where AI generates revenue by utilizing others’ content without proper compensation highlight the need for fair labor practices in the digital age.
  • Disability Rights Advancements: Despite the negatives, we have to note this area has had some encouraging outcomes. AI has made significant strides in enhancing accessibility for individuals with disabilities, such as aural and visual impairments. These advancements can amplify the impact of AI in improving sexual and reproductive health services for all, ensuring inclusivity and equity.
  • A Few AI Leaders To Watch: Several notable players, such as Microsoft, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and Google, are moving forward fast and furious in the AI landscape. Timnit Gebru, a leading AI researcher, is driving change through her Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR), underscoring the potential of AI for societal transformation. She, along with other women, were among the first voices to warn folks about AI.

As we navigate this complex terrain, we are most interested in the ways we can eliminate bias, build more inclusivity, and harness AI’s potential for a better future where sexual and reproductive health is accessible and equitable for all. We invite nonprofits, NGOs, and organizations to collaborate with us. 

What To Do Next: Work With Us

If you are looking to grow digitally, you will need to stretch your organization’s strategy beyond social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Whether you want to use digital for fundraising, organizing, or increasing your organization’s effectiveness and efficiency, you should be aware of and integrate AI into stretching your positive impact.

To help prevent the AI landscape from turning into a hellscape, we offer trainings, strategic planning consulting, and digital strategy enhancement to empower nonprofits and NGOs’ impact and understanding of these issues. Our Black-owned, progressive firm is fully committed to emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in AI integration.