Philanthropy, civil society and artificial intelligence

22 May 2018

In this episode Rhod looks at the impact Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to have on philanthropy and civil society. Topics covered include:

What are we talking about? We look at what AI actually means and why it has come to prominence in recent years, and consider 3 broad ways in which AI is going to affect civil society.

AI for Good: How is AI being put to use to deliver social and environmental benefits, and where could this go in the future? We touch on fascinating projects using machine learning for medical research and environmental protection, and explore the use of chatbots and voice-activated assistants.

The wider operating environment: AI seems set to disrupt the way that organisations, and even entire industries, operate. Civil society organisations could harness the benefits of automation, but will also need to address the wider challenges that it poses to the future of the workplace. Regulation could also be transformed, and CSOs will have to adapt. And the ways in which we are able to give in the future might look radically different.

Negative consequences of AI: We are now aware that AI poses risks as well as opportunities, and civil society seems certain to play a role in addressing many of these new challenges. We explore the dangers of algorithmic bias and the growing tide of fake news and targeted propaganda- including the emergence of “deepfakes”. We also look at the ways in which interaction with AI could affect human behaviour and the challenges this might pose.

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society.  Since launching in May 2017, the podcast has become recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate. 

In each episode Rhodri Davies, Director of our Giving Thought Think Tank, and guests, take a contemporary issue in philanthropy and civil society and break it down into three manageable chunks, giving an overview of the extensive work they have done on the subject.  Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

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Rhodri Davies

Rhodri Davies

Head of Policy

Rhodri leads Giving Thought, our in-house think tank focusing on current and future issues affecting philanthropy and civil society. Rhodri has spent nearly a decade specialising in public policy around philanthropy and the work of charities, and has researched, written and presented on a wide range of topics. He has a first-class degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.   Read more about Rhodri



Speaker profile: Rhodri Davies

Rhodri's specialist areas include philanthropy, history of philanthropy, the future of giving, Blockchain/Bitcoin and charity, artificial intelligence and giving, augmented/virtual reality and charity and the science of charitable giving.


Our project to create a world where new technologies and social trends have a positive impact on the future of civil society.

Giving Thought think-tank

Giving Thought is where we consider the key challenges facing civil society globally, explore how and why people give, and test radical new ideas that could shape the future of charity.