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Welcome to the Giving Thought Podcast, a bi-weekly exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society from the Charities Aid Foundation’s in-house think-tank, Giving Thought.

In each episode your host Rhodri Davies (formerly with co-host Adam Pickering) explores a big issue, theme or trend and analyses what it means for philanthropy and civil society around the world.

Be sure to check the show notes for each podcast and find blogs, reports and videos from Giving Thought and do get in touch if you have questions or suggestions at

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May 22, 2018

In episode 26, 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.


Related Content

-Machine-Made Goods: Philanthropy, civil society and artificial intelligence (forthcoming discussion paper, so watch out for it on our Future:Good pages)


-CAF Submission to House of Lords Select Committee on AI Call for Evidence


 -"Where are Charities in the Great AI Debate", World Economic Forum blog


-Civil Society article on charities and AI ethics


-5 ways AI is already having an impact on charity


-Robotic Alms: Is AI the future of philanthropy advice?


-Future Imperfect: 10 new problems that technology will create and charities will have to deal with


-Automatic for the People: What might a philanthropy algorithm look like?