A Call to Action: Advocating for AI Literacy for the Social Work Profession

Dr. Marina A. Badillo-Diaz, LCSW
Apr 18, 2024By Dr. Marina A. Badillo-Diaz, LCSW

In celebration of Advocacy Literacy Day (April 19th, 2024), I am calling on the social work profession to promote AI Literacy. As the field of social work continues to evolve, the role of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), is becoming increasingly significant. AI literacy is vital not only for professional competence as social workers but also because as a society, we are navigating the complexities of AI. It is crucial that we are advocates in this conversation to promote our social work values of ethical practice, responsible use, and equity of access 

AI Literacy and Social Work

AI literacy goes beyond understanding the basics of technology; it involves a deep comprehension of how AI systems are developed, how they impact society, and the ethical considerations they entail. For social workers, this knowledge is critical because it helps our profession:

Identify biases and inequalities: AI systems can perpetuate existing societal biases if they are not carefully designed and monitored. Social workers must understand these risks to protect and advocate for vulnerable populations.
Enhance service delivery: Knowledge of AI can help social workers utilize new tools and technologies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the services they offer.
Educate and empower clients: We will be better equipped to navigate the modern challenges posed by AI and understand its impacts on our clients.

Social Workers as Advocates for AI Literacy

Social workers are uniquely positioned to advocate for AI literacy due to their commitment to social justice, their interdisciplinary approach, and their direct engagement with diverse communities. As social workers, we must advocate for the following:

Ethical and Responsible Use of These Technologies:

AI literacy enables social work advocates to critically evaluate the ethical implications of AI in their practice. It is crucial for advocates to navigate the potential biases and ethical dilemmas associated with AI technology to ensure that their advocacy efforts remain ethical and equitable.

Raise Awareness Among Policymakers:

AI literacy and AI policymaking go hand-in-hand. You cannot achieve AI literacy without policies and guidelines; similarly, you cannot formulate policies and guidelines without AI literacy. Social workers must advocate for policymakers at organizational, local, state, and national levels about the impacts of AI on various social issues and push for regulations that ensure equitable AI use.

Develop and Disseminate Resources:

I advocate for our professional organizations in the field, like the National Social Work Associations, to develop and create policies and guidelines for social workers. As a profession, we should be engaging in the conversation, developing toolkits, and providing professional development training to support our profession in using these tools ethically and responsibly.

Let's Intergrate AI into Social Work Practice and Collaborate with Other Fields

I call on the social work profession to collaborate with AI experts and organizations in other fields to equip social workers with the most current knowledge and resources. This effort is crucial for educating themselves and their communities effectively. We must develop and implement AI tools that support social work objectives, such as predictive analytics for risk assessment and chatbots for initial client interactions, ensuring these tools are transparent and uphold ethical standards.

In Conclusion: Preparing for the Future

As AI continues to shape the future of social work advocacy, developing AI literacy is essential for staying ahead of the curve. By embracing AI literacy, social work advocates can proactively prepare for the evolving landscape of social work practice.

The content in this blog was created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by Dr. Marina Badillo-Diaz to ensure accuracy, relevance, and integrity. Dr. Badillo-Diaz's expertise and insightful oversight have been incorporated to ensure the content in this guide meets the standards of professional social work practice.