The Editor’s Post: Are we embracing AI too readily?

This edition of the Editor’s Post was written by a human.

There was standing room only in the workshop about artificial intelligence (AI) at last autumn’s Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) in Amsterdam. From my position squeezed into the back of the room, shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other delegates who’d also arrived too late to grab a seat, I gathered from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable workshop host that it was useful to treat tools like ChatGPT as “intelligent interns”, that is, they are capable of helping out, but they’ve got to be given precise instructions. In this way, AI can help social enterprises with their marketing, creating spreadsheets and, should they need it, generating bizarre illustrations juxtaposing, for example, bridges and angels*. 

It’s clear that AI can be useful to social entrepreneurs (and Mark Horoszowski wrote about the opportunities AI offers in Pioneers Post a little while ago), but as the SEWF workshop reached its end, one of the delegates felt obliged to speak up.

James Gauci, an Australian ethical tech specialist, said he was incredibly concerned that the workshop hadn’t covered the moral implications of AI – which are potentially wide-ranging, encompassing big questions about human rights, the climate crisis and dangers that we haven’t even yet foreseen. The social enterprise community, he emphasised, has a duty to act as the world’s conscience.

So I asked James to write an article for us to get his important message out to the global impact community. “As the socially conscious corner of the capitalist system,” he says, “social enterprise cannot afford to have a blind spot for technology, least of all AI.” Don’t miss this vital thought piece.


Will you be in The Hague next week?

Our reporter, Estelle Uba, is travelling to the Euclid Network’s Impact Summit next week. She’s going to be speaking about the role of the media in shaping social impact at the ‘Breaking barriers’ session on 19 March at 14:30 GMT. Do say hello if you’re there!


Looking forward to the SE100 awards

We’re opening applications to our 2024 SE100 Index and Social Business Awards soon, the programme we run with NatWest to celebrate the UK’s most impressive social enterprises. Keep an eye on our website and this newsletter for the latest updates. In the meantime, there are still opportunities to sponsor our prestigious prizes. If you’re interested, get in touch with our founding editor, Tim West.


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Header photo: deepak pal (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)