Everywhere I looked in 2023, people were talking about the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other large language models (LLM). The voices ran the gamut from telling us the sky was falling to these tools being the greatest thing since sliced bread.
I have never been an early adopter of technology. I didn’t have the first iPhone (though I love mine now); my husband gifted me a kindle and I wondered how I would give up “real” books (though I never leave home without it now); and my most high-tech project management tool was a giant whiteboard (until Kimberly convinced me we should use Asana and I’m a true convert now).
It should come as no surprise that I was not quick to jump on the AI bandwagon. Other than not wanting to be the first to try something, what was I afraid of?
Oh, let me count the things.
1. There was ChatGPT, and Bard, and who knows what else out there? What was the best one? How did I even start? How does it work? I had so many questions.
2. Was it even ethical? Enough grant professionals claim it’s not. As a GPC (Grant Professional Certified) and member of the Grant Professionals Association I swore to uphold our profession’s code of ethics. And I did not want to risk losing my associate with either my credential or association.
3. Was the information even accurate? Could I trust it?
4. What if it took me longer to write my grant? When under a deadline I have a process that works for me. Would ChatGPT just slow me down and make it impossible to meet the deadline?
5. Would I finally figure it out, only to discover there was another tool or a new version that everyone was raving about? Would I have to start all over again to figure out a new system?
And when I have all the questions, the only way to move forward is to get some answers. So that’s what I did.
And here’s what I found.
1. Yes, there are a few different options. And those early adopters of AI/LLM are always happy to talk about the shiny new toy. So I asked friends and colleagues and they shared their experiences with me. This lessoned my fear of the unknown.
2. The Grant Professionals Association issued a statement. The gist is that AI (like any tool) is not unethical, but its use has the potential to create an ethical dilemma. I am a grown up with common sense, so I have the ability to think through any potential issue. If you want to read more about GPA’s stance on this, you can read it HERE.
3. Just like using information from any source, you need to trust but verify. And that includes considering the source. I will never assume something written by AI is 100% accurate, but I can do my homework. And I understand that tools like ChatGPT were created by a very homogenous group of people – so bias is ever present. Being aware of that means I can factor that into what is written before I take it as gospel truth.
4. Stuck under the pressure of a deadline is no time to figure out a new tool or writing process. Instead, I’m starting with lower stakes. That means I might use AI to help start a blog post. Or suggest a few objectives for a new program. It is not writing the whole grant for me. (And for the record, this blog post is 100% Amanda.)
5. Sure, there is always going to be a better and greater tool. It’s the nature of the beast. But that doesn’t mean I have to switch every time a new one comes out. If I decide one application works for me, then I can stick with it.
So yes, I’m dipping my toe in the AI water this year.
Does that mean I think AI is going to replace grant professionals? Certainly not before I retire. And probably not ever. There is a human element that will always be the thing that makes our proposals more inviting, more human, more real. And for that reason, I’ll keep on writing – whether I use an AI tool or not.
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