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Disruptive Technology, Philanthropy & Civil Society


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These are the slides of a webinar I gave for WINGS in April 2018.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Disruptive Technology, Philanthropy & Civil Society

  1. 1. 1 Tech, Philanthropy & Civil Society Rhodri Davies Head of Policy & Programme Director, Giving Thought
  2. 2. Why should funders and CSOs care about disruptive tech? G O O D B A D NEUTRAL New ways of achieving mission1) Change the way organisations operate2) Create new problems to address3)
  3. 3. What is tech disruption? 3 Innovation Disruption Doing the same stuff, but better Doing new stuff Doing stuff that makes the old stuff obsolete
  4. 4. Current Disruptive Technologies 4 Artificial Intelligence (AI) Blockchain Cryptocurrency Big/Open Data 3D Printing Virtual & Augmented Reality (VAR) Internet of Things (IoT) Autonomous Vehicles & Drones CRISPR/Biotech Wearable tech Robotics Human AugmentationQuantum Computing
  5. 5. Key Questions for Civil Society about Disruptive Technologies 5 Could it create new ways for existing CSOs to solve social & environmental problems? Will it lead to new organisations emerging to compete with existing CSOs? Could it create entirely new problems that CSOs will have to address? Will it offer new ways for existing CSOs to run more efficiently or effectively? Could it disrupt the existing governance structures of CSOs? Could it give rise to new kinds of donations? Will it make it easier or harder to identify potential donors? Could it give rise to entirely new classes of donors? Will it offer new ways of engaging donors and supporters? Could the development of this technology itself be seen as a charitable cause? Could it create new challenges for existing beneficiaries? Will it reduce or increase inequality?
  6. 6. Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Technology 6 NB: ≠ Cryptocurrency is the best-known use case of blockchain tech so far, but there are potentially far wider applications A blockchain is a distributed public ledger: record of transactions and ownership within a system, but without need for traditional trusted 3rd party
  7. 7. Non-financial blockchain uses 7 Trustworthy ledgers are pretty important
  8. 8. Cryptocurrency 8 Over 1,000 cryptocurrencies. E.g. N.B: Nearly 40 have market cap of >$1bn each. For non- profits: Opportunities • Tap into newly created crypto wealth • Get benefits of blockchain Challenges • Technical know- how • Volatility • AML/KYC
  9. 9. What are the key feature of blockchain tech? 9 Public Immutable UniversalDistributed Secure Inherently digital
  10. 10. What does blockchain enable? 10 Decentralisation & Disintermediation Radical transparency Assets and value of all kinds can be recorded Smart contracts Transforming governance
  11. 11. Civil Society Blockchain Possibilities (part 1) 11 1) Disintermediation • Reduced transaction costs • Direct cash transfers at scale • Increased trust? 2) Radical Transparency • Ability to track donations at all points • Increased trust? • Challenges in terms of core costs etc • What about justified donor/beneficiary anonymity? 3) All Kinds of Assets • Any existing asset can be recorded on blockchain- tangible or intangible • Entirely new digital assets can be created- e.g. tokens
  12. 12. Civil Society Blockchain Possibilities (part 2) 12 6) Real-time financial info • Immutable shared ledger of transactions • No need for separate reporting regime • No need for audit 4) Smart Contracts • Self-executing computer protocols that perform defined functions when set criteria are met • Wide range of applications e.g. automated Payment by Results, algorithmic regulation 5) New governance models • Distributed Autonomous Organisations (DAOs)- networks of individuals able to coordinate at scale without centralisation by using smart contracts etc. • Challenge to traditional charitable organisations?
  13. 13. Blockchain & Global NGO Finance: Opportunities 13 Real-time financial info & audit -Blockchain brings secure, visible ledger of transactions -No need for separate audit process Enables co-ordination between parties where trust is lacking -Rules governing interaction can be set using smart contracts -Transparency guarantees honesty Enhanced KYC/AML? -Lot of talk about ‘anonymity’ of bitcoin etc., but actually highly traceable -ALSO: potential for dedicated KYC/AML applications of blockchain Multiple parties can update ledger -Public (any user); Permissioned, anyone with permission -Entries immutable once recorded -Shared ledger: no need for separate reconciliation process
  14. 14. Blockchain & Global NGO Finance: Challenges 14 Volatility -Mainstream cryptocurrencies are incredibly volatile -unsuitable for non-profits to hold, and could make use for cross- border transfer limited Last Mile Challenge -How to get money moved as crypto/tokens to the end users? -Might not be a problem if simply using blockchain to track trad finance -ALSO: integration with MPESA etc. could help developing world “leapfrog” Regulation -Little clarity so far re how crypto and blockchain will be regulated -Some regulators clamping down entirely, others looking to support innovation -No global consensus Choosing platform -Growing number of blockchains and initiatives built on top of them -Lots of hype and inflated claims -Few established use cases/ little track record -Difficult for non-profits to navigate
  15. 15. Artificial Intelligence (AI) 15 Number of key factors in recent AI growth: 1)More powerful algorithms (Deep Learning) 2)Data explosion 3) Greater processing power (GPUs) 4)Investment NB: Narrow/Domain Specific AI, not Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) Opinions vary on when latter might happen, or if it is even possible, but former is here now. Yes No
  16. 16. AI, Automation and Civil Society 16 Impact on CSOs Wider impact Robotic Process Automation (Data handling, grant applications etc.) Chatbots for customer services & advice services Use AI to further mission (e.g. medical research, conservation) Increased use of AI by consumers (e.g. conversational interfaces) Algorithmic giving Impact of AI on beneficiaries (algorithmic bias, desensitisation etc.) 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3.
  17. 17. Algorithmic Giving “If you liked Cancer Research UK, you’ll love RNLI!” Facebook/Amazon model: charity recommendations based on past preferences or peer group behaviour A. Philgorithm: Wholly automated process of matching needs and interventions B.
  18. 18. Are Philgorithms Feasible? 18 You can’t remove element of heart from charitable giving, so this will never happen! A) We will become accustomed to algorithmic advice in all areas of life, so why not charity? B) There will be contexts in which giving is only feasible without human oversight e.g. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) transactions Objection: Response:
  19. 19. M2M Philanthropy? 19
  20. 20. Data: Big, Open & Everywhere 20 “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data” The Economist (2017) • Machine learning requires vast quantities of data • Growing pressure on data ownership in future • Charities will need to embrace Open Data, and get away from “private by default” mindset • Potential benefit: 3rd party innovation
  21. 21. Digital Identity 21 Proving identity remains one of the biggest challenges online BUT: big changes may be coming… Proof of ID - Biometrics, facial recognition etc. Ownership – “Self-Sovereign Identity”. Instead of govt, companies etc. controlling your ID; you hold all data and disclose only those aspects you choose in any given situation. NB: Possibility that in future we could all monetise our personal data.
  22. 22. Key Cross-Cutting Themes Recap 22 Disintermediation Decentralisation Algorithmic interfaces Radical Transparency New digital assets Data-driven decision making Data ownership New types of digital identity
  23. 23. Where to find us 23 CAF Giving Thought think tank: us/blog-home/giving-thought Giving Thought Podcast: @Rhodri_H_Davies
  24. 24. Rhodri Davies Head of Policy & Programme Director, Giving Thought Charities Aid Foundation