The pros and cons of using ChatGPT in the humanitarian sector | Experts’ Opinions

By Catalina Russu

The pros and cons of using ChatGPT in the humanitarian sector | Experts’ Opinions

Trained primarily in English but capable of generating responses in multiple languages, the artificial intelligence model or chatbot, ChatGPT, quickly filled social media pages with screenshots of people looking impressed (or not), amused, or even scared by the bot’s capabilities. The humanitarian sector is no exception. By using its features, humanitarians can accelerate response efforts as well as reduce costs and streamline processes. But what are the possible side-effects? If you are curious to find out, read the article below that offers two different points of view.

Key Takeaways:

  • Artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT is trained to provide replies in natural language in response to human input.
  • ChatGPT has predicted that Large Language Models could one day replace human workers from fields such as technical writing, customer support, translation, copywriting, data entry, data science, computer science, etc.
  • According to experts, one of the benefits of using AI in humanitarian responses is the ability to process large amounts of data quickly.
  • However, other experts state that ChatGPT, in its current iteration, will not be able to reduce costs and streamline responses in the humanitarian sector as most of the issues are human-related and not machine-dependent.

DevelopmentAid: How can ChatGPT help the humanitarian field? Please suggest some pros and cons.

Shahid Mahmood, M&E Specialist, Concern Worldwide, Pakistan
Shahid Mahmood, M&E Specialist, Concern Worldwide, Pakistan

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven to be a game-changer in various fields such as healthcare, finance, and retail. It has also proved to be an invaluable tool in humanitarian response. The relief activities involve providing aid and assistance to people affected by natural disasters, conflicts, and other emergencies. AI in humanitarian response can help organizations to respond more quickly, more efficiently, and more accurately. One of the benefits of using AI in humanitarian response is the ability to process large amounts of data quickly. Algorithms can analyze data from multiple sources, such as social media, satellite imagery, and news reports, to provide accurate and timely information. For example, AI-powered drones can survey areas affected by a natural disaster and provide real-time data on the extent of the damage and the areas where people need assistance the most. AI can also predict the likelihood of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, and help organizations to prepare for such an event. Another benefit of using AI in humanitarian response is the ability to automate repetitive tasks. It allows humanitarian organizations to focus on more critical tasks such as assisting needy people. For example, AI-powered chatbots can provide information and assistance to people affected by a disaster, reducing the workload of humanitarian workers. AI can also automate supply chain management, ensuring that essential supplies such as food, water, and medicine quickly reach those in need. Of course, despite the benefits, there are also challenges of AI use. One of the biggest remains the ethical considerations. For example, AI algorithms may unintentionally discriminate against certain groups of people such as those with disabilities or from marginalized communities. Organizations must ensure that AI is used ethically and not perpetuate bias or discrimination. Another challenge is the potential for AI to replace human workers. While AI can automate repetitive tasks, it cannot replace the human element of a humanitarian response because people can provide essential services such as emotional support and empathy which AI cannot replicate. Organizations must balance using AI to automate tasks and ensure that human workers remain essential to the response. In conclusion, the use of AI in humanitarian response has the potential to revolutionize the way organizations respond to emergencies. With the right approach, AI can help organizations to respond more quickly, more efficiently, and with greater accuracy, ultimately saving lives and providing essential aid to those in need.”

Paula Daniela Ramos, REAL Political Analyst

“ChatGPT is widely used in the humanitarian sector, yet discussions about its impact on this field are growing at a similar pace. Thus, the intention of this article is to analyze and contrast the opportunities and implications of disruptive AI and ChatGPT for the humanitarian sector. It offers opportunities to maximize efforts while stretching resources and improves access to information during emergencies as it allows users to access specific and quicker information, breaking down complex search queries. Simultaneously, it could potentially assist various programme changes by proposing alternative solutions that could better adapt to critical situations. It enhances advocacy work for organizations that lack or struggle with resources. Contrary to this, there are also potential risks and drawbacks associated with the use of AI. One of the main risks is the potential for bias, as ChatGPT learns from data that reflects existing social, economic, or cultural biases, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes. Furthermore, it could also displace jobs related to data analysis and interpretation and damage the privacy of individuals who interact with ChatGPT, as the tool collects and stores data. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to address the ethical and societal implications of ChatGPT, by developing robust ethical guidelines and oversight mechanisms that ensure ChatGPT is used in ways that respect the dignity and rights of affected populations, protect their privacy, and avoid perpetuating biases or exacerbating inequalities. It is also essential to provide adequate training to those who interact with ChatGPT to ensure they understand the implications of using ChatGPT.”

See also: How AI can impact developing countries: positives and negatives

Naruth Phadungchai, Humanitarian Aid and Rural Development expert
Naruth Phadungchai, Humanitarian Aid and Rural Development expert

“ChatGPT, in its current iteration, offers nothing useful for humanitarians or international development. AI requires massive amounts of data to learn, data that must be publicly available or given to the researchers developing the algorithms. However, much of the data in our industry is proprietary, protected, or very centric towards English-language information. This means the data sets are limited – in terms of both quantity and quality – and thus using such faulty inputs would only result in poor outputs. Moreover, it is unclear to me exactly how AI can reduce costs and streamline responses. Many of the inefficiencies in our industry are due to human-imposed constraints such as rules and regulations or delayed or poor decision-making due to politics or biases. AI is not going to solve this; it is not a panacea for governments, organizations, or groups acting rationally or irrationally, often at cross-purposes, based on their diverse self-interests. Not unless humans are willing to cede agency to a computer program. Instead of grasping at the most recent trendy things, it is better to focus on fixing known problems using the tools we already have: our own hearts and brains.”

See also: How can Artificial Intelligence help fight climate change? | Experts’ Opinions

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