As a professional coach empowering conservation practitioners, I am intrigued and wary of the current eruption of AI technology, most immediately being ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer). This innovative technology powered by artificial intelligence enables dynamic conversations and opens a world of possibilities for everyone including conservationists. It works by the user asking it a question or requesting content and the program creating relevant text - perhaps this very article! Want to take a guess whether it's human or AI generated?
I am curious to hear what others are up to in their use and experience of ChatGPT. Even more, I’d love for those that want to give it a go perhaps that little stimulus needed to get started. This is a professional skill for now that is freely accessible.
Fears, risks and challenges of using ChatGPT
I wonder if you have tried using ChatGPT yet? I delayed my use because I was quite happy with how I used to generate content; I was fearful it was perhaps wrong (maybe inauthentic) to use artificial intelligence rather than my own and I was also fearful perhaps I was exposing or revealing more of myself to cyberworld than would be cyber-safe. I also had a touch of wanting to avoid the discomfort of sitting in front of a new technology and not knowing exactly what to do with it. What changed for me was firstly calling on some courage to feel the fear and have a go regardless, starting with some very baby (low risk) steps. My very first question of ChatGPT was ‘what are some innovative approaches a group can take to raise funds?’
Beyond personal fears, there are substantive risks and issues. As conservation practitioners and more fundamentally, responsible citizens of a global community, we must be aware of the limitations and potential pitfalls associated with utilizing AI technology. Biases, both inherent in the data that trains ChatGPT and introduced by user input, can impact the accuracy, fairness, and usefulness of the responses. Additionally, ChatGPT may lack domain-specific knowledge, requiring us to critically evaluate the information it provides. The challenges for physical, biological, and social scientists will be both similar and different. How have, or might we, navigate these challenges and ensure use of ChatGPT aligns with the principles and goals of conservation, science, social ethics? Discussions and consideration of how we can engage with these issues is likely to be far more productive than denial, avoidance or ranting about the risks of this exciting (maybe daunting) and increasingly prevalent tool.
Leveraging Opportunities for Conservation
Perhaps you have already harnessed ChatGPT to advance your conservation work? Can you share an example of an innovative solutions, enhanced decision-making, or accelerated research that have emerged using ChatGPT by yourself or a colleague?
Amidst the challenges, ChatGPT also offers immense opportunities for conservation practitioners. It serves as a powerful tool for exploring innovative solutions, enhancing decision-making processes, and accelerating research endeavours. By engaging in dynamic conversations with ChatGPT, we can tap into its vast knowledge base, gain fresh perspectives, and unlock novel approaches to address complex conservation problems. What’s a problem or opportunity you could put to ChatGPT.
Ethical Considerations and Responsible Use
How can we ensure the ethical and responsible use of ChatGPT in our conservation work? If you currently use ChatGPT, what steps do you take to mitigate potential risks and maximize the benefits it offers? If you don’t use it, what steps would you like users to be taking?
The use of AI technologies like ChatGPT requires us to be mindful of ethical considerations. It is essential to establish protocols and guidelines for responsible use, ensuring that our interactions with ChatGPT align with our conservation values. As practitioners, we must be vigilant in evaluating and verifying the information provided by ChatGPT to avoid any unintentional harm or misinformation.
Fostering Collaboration and Community Engagement
In what ways have you used ChatGPT to foster collaboration among conservation practitioners and engage with the wider community? How might it facilitate knowledge sharing and inspire collective action?
ChatGPT can serve as a platform for connecting conservation practitioners worldwide, fostering collaboration, and sharing knowledge. By engaging in conversations with ChatGPT, we can exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and crowdsource innovative solutions. This interactive approach encourages collaboration within this and other communities. It empowers individuals to actively contribute to and participate in conservation efforts. How might we leverage ChatGPT within WildHub to foster collaboration, engage with the conservation community beyond WildHub, and inspire collective action?
As professionals in many fields, including conservation, our journey with ChatGPT, like any journey, can be filled with both opportunities and challenges. ChatGPT holds immense potential to revolutionize approaches to conservation, but it also demands thoughtful consideration and responsible use. By addressing the challenges, leveraging the opportunities, and ensuring ethical practices, we can harness the power of ChatGPT to advance our conservation goals. Let’s share our experiences, insights, and concerns regarding ChatGPT generally and specifically for conservation. Together, let's navigate this ever-evolving landscape be leaders in using AI technology to enhance the only planet we have to live in and enjoy.
Footnote – it probably does not surprise you that I asked ChatGPT to generate a 500 word article about how conservation practitioners could use ChatGPT. I had a draft response within 60 seconds. I asked for one refinement and then spent the next hour or two editing to make it more ‘mine’ and learning more about ChatGPT. With hindsight, the original response would have been fit for the purpose of starting a conversation and saved me two hours!