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Harnessing AI as a force for good

Hugo Delamain by Hugo Delamain

Harnessing AI as a force for good

Beyond the AI hype: A summary of our recent panel discussion


Amidst ongoing concern surrounding AI risk, safety and ethics, a key question arises how can we truly harness this powerful technology as a force for good? To answer this, our recent ‘What’s Next?’ event provided an invaluable forum.


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It’s time to look beyond the Artificial Intelligence (AI) hype 

Last year, as AI-mania took hold, thousands of .ai domain names were registered (a boon for the Anguillan economy) and every business under the sun either started running experiments, claiming to be ‘powered by AI’ or just banning their employees from even mentioning ChatGPT. Despite all this noise, the real-world applications have been limited with just 10% of organisations launching generative AI solutions in 2023. While this is largely due to the technology itself still evolving, a key barrier has and continues to be the lack of skill and expertise to deploy or manage trustworthy AI, as reported in this IBM Global Adoption Index.  

Amidst ongoing concern surrounding AI risk, safety and ethics, a key question arises – how can we truly harness this powerful technology as a force for good? To answer this, our recent ‘What’s Next?’ event provided an invaluable forum. Hosted in partnership with Prospect Magazine, ‘What’s Next?’ is a series that invites industry experts to engage in thought-provoking discussion around challenges and events that are shaping the business frontier. Through a platform that was most fitting for the topic, it was fantastic to listen to our distinguished panel discuss the subject of ‘harnessing AI as a force for good’ and were able to delve deeply into actionable strategies and ethical considerations that underpin the responsible use of AI through an expert lens.


What we learnt from our experts on AI safety, ethics and business integration  

Our panel consisted of Katie Vanneck Smith (CEO, Hearst UK), Ethan Zuckerman (Associate Professor of Public Policy, Information and Communication, University of Massachusetts), Greg Jackson (Founder & CEO, Octopus Energy) and Debbie Weinstein (VP and MD, Google UK & Ireland), all of whom are in the process of understanding and adapting to the technological advances underway within their respective fields. The conversation was expertly stewarded by none other than Alan Rusbridger (Editor-in-Chief, Prospect). 

All the panellists brought different perspectives to the discussion, filling the room with equal parts nodding heads, reactions analogous to ‘grabbing the popcorn’ and questions which further invigorated the discussion. Though for the most part, there was general alignment on some key points:  

  1. Regulation is going to be a major challenge for everyone – it was controversially suggested that governments tend to struggle to regulate new technologies and will need to ensure they take an industry-specific approach with Generative AI. The key will be in regulating outcomes rather than approaches, which would stifle innovation.  
  2. Transparency has its challenges but it is critical – for reasons of competitiveness and effectiveness companies will want to be protective of how the deploy generative AI, but there must be a transparent collective conversation to keep the public on board. Who are ‘the public’ you ask? The 25% of people in this survey who believe that AI will have a negative impact.  
  3. Generative AI is not an amoral tool – one has always been able to make the case about technology that it’s not inherently good or bad, but it can be used to do good or bad. Bank heists have no doubt been planned on PowerPoint, but it’s not PowerPoint’s fault. Generative AI is different because there is optionality on what data it is trained on and how it rewarded. It is possible to create a ‘bad’ language model, as was found by this Oxford University study 
  4. The job market will be impacted but the long-term outlook is positive – every major technological advancement has resulted in job displacement but at the same time has created new jobs. There was broad agreement that the legal profession was going to be disrupted but varying degrees of sympathy. It is the mundane tasks we tend to automate first which leaves humans, lawyers included, free to focus on the creative work where they can add value.  
  5. Humans have to keep being creative for AI to evolve – thus far you can’t effectively train LLMs on outputs generated by LLMs. This means humans need to keep creating fantastic, imaginative content in order for these models to remain fresh. Somewhat poetically, generative AI is most dependent on some of the jobs (e.g. journalism) it is mostly likely to disrupt.  


Far more was discussed over the course of the hour, and it was fascinating to hear about the impact of generative AI on different business models and the wider societal impact that a technology such as this can have. The discussion also further highlighted some of the ways in which AI can respond to key challenges that we’re faced with today, as well as create plenty of new ones, which left us to the conclusion that the relentless march of progress continues.  


Key considerations for business leaders as we step into the ‘AI-powered’ future 

Generative AI’s allure lies in its transformative potential, which has captivated business leaders and innovators alike. However, the reality is that it is not changing the world overnight. With 23% of companies still consider themselves to be ‘non-digital’, the pressing question is not just about adopting AI, but doing so with caution and strategy.  

At Q5, we’re firm believers in getting the fundamentals right. If your organisation is set up in the right way, your people are empowered to innovate and there’s an established approach to investment you will be able to leverage whatever new technology comes along. Take inspiration from companies like Octopus, who had the foresight to build the platforms and upskill as necessary to quickly capitalise on generative AI in delivering customer support 

As we navigate this transformative landscape, join us over the coming months as we explore the impact of generative AI on organisation health. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter – the next edition of which will be all about Gen AI and edited by me.


Check out the video below for a glimpse into our ‘What’s Next?’ event with Prospect Magazine!


If this topic is of interest or you have any questions. We would love to chat! 



Hugo Delamain

Head of Digital


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