To say AI has taken the world by storm this year would be an understatement. We’ve been closely following how AI may impact sustainability/ESG and communications and have even tested a few of the AI tools within our own workflows.
In the course of a few short months, AI has proven to span the extremes of good and bad. To be fair, that is to be expected with any new technology introduced into the mainstream. However, when we say new, we simply mean advanced. AI has been around for some time (Hey, Siri!), as have social chatbots (like, Microsoft’s Xiaoice, Zo and Rinna), but the recent technological advancements and the wide adoption by way of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and many others has reignited a public firestorm around AI, its use cases, and its implications for society. We recognize there’s still a need for ethical rigor and strong regulation in place to make AI a truly safe technology, and we know it will continue to advance and evolve. For now, we’ve explored safe uses of AI for the sustainability/ESG and communications worlds that should be integrated today:
1. Help with ESG data collection and analysis.
AI can assist in the automated collection and analysis of vast amounts of data your internal teams may already be collecting that are relevant to your sustainability/ESG reporting. This is especially helpful with quickly extracting valuable insights from structured and unstructured data sources. Though, it’s important to be wary about sharing too much information with a public AI tool, as many of the public tools available aren’t built to protect private information they’ve been fed.
2. Assist in writing your ESG report.
When writing your report, AI can be most helpful in providing industry overviews, outline suggestions, conducting data analysis, and assisting in compiling information. You want to be sure the AI isn’t pulling in information from just anywhere; no “hallucinations” are welcome in your communications, so be sure to fact check. ESG reports, and all your communications, require clear and compelling narratives in your voice that embody your unique sustainability journey and goals. AI still lacks the creativity, storytelling and contextual ability to craft a branded and engaging report. Remember: your communications should be authentically you, not authentically everyone!
3. A starting place for your sustainability/ESG research process.
Comprehensive literature reviews, predictive modeling or more simply, learning about a new topic are all ways to ignite your research process. However, like a good study, the answers you receive will only be as good as the questions you ask. Treat your queries (prompts) as you would when writing a brief, by being as thorough as possible. That said, AI has its limitations. Because AI models are trained on data, if the training data is biased or contains errors, it can lead to incorrect outcomes. Users have also reported that information and data they have been given has been factually incorrect. Again, fact checking is critical.
4. Facilitating and processing stakeholder engagements.
Engaging with stakeholders is a vital aspect of sustainability/ESG progress. AI can help analyze stakeholder sentiment and feedback from social media, surveys, and other sources, as well as provide relevant information, answer queries and facilitate transparency and accountability. However, as much as AI can do in this scenario, it’s important to remember that the human element is essential in interpreting and addressing stakeholders’ concerns and expectations, as well as developing appropriate strategies to respond to their feedback.
A note about Privacy: We’d be remiss if we didn’t emphasize that the publicly available tools are just that, public. Don’t put your proprietary or confidential information into any of them and expect it to stay that way. There are paid versions of these tools that promise privacy, but you might need a developer to help you set that up. This is an ever-changing landscape, so no matter when you read this, we are likely out of date!
Ultimately, we believe that AI and technology can be good for society with guardrails in place. If you’re interested in testing AI in your communications, any of the above ways are a great place to start. We urge you to get creative in your exploration. This is only the beginning!
How Ideas On Purpose Can Help
Need help turning insights into action? Consider engaging an expert. Insight-backed communication is integral to the work we do. Check out some of the stakeholder-pleasing sustainability reports and impact communications IOP has created — and email us to get in touch if you need help with yours.
Cover Photo: Markus Spiske on Unsplash