Is AI A-OK? Exploring Artificial Intelligence and Environmental OutreachPOSTED ON May 15th, 2023 BY Nancy Roberts
Everywhere we look these days, we see both excitement and warnings around the Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution. How will the use of artificial intelligence impact our outreach? Will it make it easy to select the best way to communicate about environmental behavior change? Will it put environmental behavior change agencies out of business? ARGH.
While we don’t think we’ll be out of a job any time soon, we all know that change is the only certainty and that we will all need to adapt to this new ‘entity’. Let’s look at the current state of AI with a couple of examples from Google’s Bard chatbot:
I asked Bard:
“Write a Facebook post that will incorporate food waste messaging and Livermore’s Binny.”
Sure, here is a Facebook post that incorporates food waste messaging and Livermore’s Binny:
Headline: Livermore’s Binny is Helping to Fight Food Waste
Did you know that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted every year? That’s enough food to feed 2 billion people!
Food waste is a major environmental problem. It contributes to climate change, water pollution, and deforestation. It also wastes resources that could be used to feed people.
Livermore’s Binny is helping to fight food waste. They donate food to local food banks and soup kitchens. They also compost food scraps, which helps to reduce methane emissions.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce food waste, there are a few things you can do:
- Plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t buy more food than you need.
- Cook only what you need and save leftovers for later.
- Donate food to local food banks or soup kitchens.
- Compost food scraps.
By taking these steps, you can help to reduce food waste and make a difference in the world.
Call to action:
To learn more about how you can help fight food waste, visit Binny’s website or follow them on social media.
While the information is not totally incorrect, it seems as if Bard could not distinguish a Facebook post from a 185-word blog post. Despite having instant access to the entire Internet, Bard did not know that Binny is a mascot for Livermore Recycles, representing the Organics Cart; Binny himself does not “donate food to local food banks and soup kitchens.” While this post draft gives some ideas, it certainly requires human intervention.
I tried to push the AI to make decisions about which content to include in a short format, asking:
“Please write a tweet with the most important action an individual can take to combat the climate crisis.”
Bard’s response was very big-picture – for whatever reason, it did not focus on recycling or reducing individual carbon footprint, but on political action:
The most important action an individual can take to combat the climate crisis is to vote for climate-friendly candidates. Vote in every election, from local to national, and let your elected officials know that climate action is a top priority for you. #ClimateAction
So far, these responses are reasonable but not earth-shattering. Can AI provide the spark that really grabs attention? I tried to elicit some more creativity from Bard, asking:
“Please write a limerick about sorting waste at home.”
Bard responded with:
There was a young lady named Sue
Who sorted her waste into two.
She said, “I’m a bit green,
But I’m doing my scene
By recycling and composting too!”
Well, Bard, I think “doing my scene” is a bit weak, but this has a spark of life in it.
Finally, selfishly, I asked Bard, “When will AI replace the need for environmental outreach professionals?”
Part of Bard’s reply was appealing:
Here are some ways that AI can be used to support environmental outreach professionals:
- Create engaging and informative content:AI can be used to generate content that is tailored to the needs of different audiences. For example, AI can be used to create infographics, videos, and articles that are both informative and engaging.
- Track the effectiveness of outreach efforts:AI can be used to track the effectiveness of outreach efforts by measuring things like website traffic, social media engagement, and donations. This data can be used to improve future outreach efforts.
- Connect with people who might not otherwise be reached:AI can be used to connect with people who might not otherwise be reached by environmental outreach efforts. For example, AI can be used to create chatbots that can answer questions about environmental issues or to create personalized email campaigns.
Some interesting promises here that we will explore further. But, we also like Bard’s conclusion:
Overall, AI is a powerful tool that can be used to support environmental outreach professionals. However, it is important to remember that AI cannot replace the human touch. Environmental outreach professionals are still essential for building relationships with people and communities, and for creating lasting change.
P.S. Bard does not yet create images, but I asked Fotor.com to “Create an image for a blog post about the use of AI for environmental behavior change campaigns.” The result (see above) is, well, interesting!
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