Impact Insider #27: AI could revolutionize the social sector — but here's the catch

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AI could become a core technology driving social change within the next decade.

On Wednesday, DeepMind — an artificial intelligence (AI) research firm owned by Google — announced a breakthrough in AI-assisted healthcare: it can now accurately predict the likelihood of patients developing acute kidney injury, a life-threatening condition, up to two days before it happens. While the tool was based on limited data (drawn from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and mostly male), it brings hope that similar tools could help healthcare workers predict critical conditions and intervene earlier.

Recently, researchers at Harvard University and the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab revealed the creation of an AI tool that can detect the text patterns found in fake news created by AI. The tool boosted humans’ ability to detect AI-crafted content by close to 20 percent in a trial. It’s a promising way to help combat the false content used to sway public opinion.

AI research and development in Canada alone has seen more than $1.2 billion in funding, and more than $260 million was raised by Canadian AI startups last year. Canada is world-renowned in AI, which is wonderful — but how can the world of impact contribute and benefit?

AI is increasingly becoming an integral part of tackling local and global challenges, from mental health to food security. So, let’s dive in. This week, James Stauch and Alina Turner continue their series on AI and social impact with essential insights on the ways this technology is playing a crucial role in creating social change today. Heads up: Some of these will surprise you…


This Week’s Most Popular in Future of Good

1. How to Bring Fresh Voices to the Table in Philanthropy with John Michael Koffi, Heela Omarkhail, Nicole Gagliardi, Michael Redhead Champagne
Why It Matters: To reach new generations of donors, volunteers, and employees, organizations update their tactics and learn to reflect the changing communities around them, say four young leaders in a digital roundtable with Future of Good.

2.Edge & Main, Episode 2: Moving From an Individual to a Collective Worldview with Indy Johar
Why It Matters:
Climate change, poverty, hunger, division — these global challenges are all symptoms of a larger root problem, says Indy Johar, co-founder of Dark Matter Labs. To solve them, we need to move in a meaningful way from an individual worldview to a collective one.

3. The 3 Hidden Benefits of Coworking Spaces by Sarah Brown
Why It Matters: Surveys have shown that workers are spending more time than ever in their co-working spaces, and it seems like shared offices are popping up everywhere across Canada. But with more options than ever, coworking office owners need to do more in order to forge connections and spark innovation in new ways. We dive into several methods leading coworking initiatives are using to bring innovation to new faces in new places.

4. How Well Does Canada’s National SDG Strategy Involve All Canadians? by Katie Miller
Why It Matters: With just over a decade left to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Canada has put together an interim strategy towards achieving the goals nationwide. But how well does it involve all Canadians, and what can we do to further engage stakeholders?


What To Watch Next Week

On Wednesday, Canada’s federal government announced that it would invest over $2.7 million in funding to help grow AccessNow, a platform that helps people crowdsource and map accessibility information around the world.

We want to understand how we can better integrate accessibility into every aspect of our lives, so we sat down with Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, to learn 3 ways to get started.


What Matters from the World of Impact

Each week, our editorial team scans the top 50 impact-focused newsletters from Canada and around the world, so you don’t have to. We curate to bring you key news, insights, and analysis.

1. Donors who give to women’s funds and foundations are “exceptionally engaged”
Why It Matters: New research shows that women’s funds and foundations are attracting more engaged donors who give in higher quantities, get involved in ways like serving on boards, and see themselves as philanthropic leaders. What can organizations across the philanthropic landscape learn from the methods of women’s funds?
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2. Future Cities Canada announces the launch of Civic Commons Catalyst
Why It Matters: A robust public realm is essential in equitable cities. But in some Canadian communities, we are seeing underutilization and underinvestment in our public spaces (“Civic Commons”), while in others, growing privatization further reduces the amount of publicly accessible spaces. Future Cities Canada is working to support people working in the Civic Commons through discussion, knowledge-sharing, and incubation.
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3. Bringing climate change into the classroom
Why It Matters: One only has to look at the school climate strike movement to know young people will be vital in the fight against climate change. England’s North of Tyne is now planning to add a United Nations-accredited climate change teacher to every state school. How can we make Canada a leader in bringing youth into the fold?
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4. How can Alberta transition to a sustainable economy?
Why It Matters: There are multiple approaches Canada could take to transition Alberta’s oil-based economy to a more sustainable one — and its success could serve as a roadmap around the world for how to re-skill societies in the face of economic transitions. 
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5. European Commission President-elect plans to set legislation to govern AI
Why It Matters: Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, has announced she will propose legislation for “a coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of artificial intelligence” within her first hundred days in office. As an early mover in this space, this could potentially serve as a benchmark for legislative bodies around the world.
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Opportunities from the World of Impact

We’re testing out a new section in Impact Insider — a community-oriented space to share valuable impact-focused opportunities. If you have something you’d like for us to include, just hit reply to this email.

1. Future of Good is hiring a Digital Marketing Specialist ⭐️
We are searching for a talented digital marketing specialist to join our startup team. The candidate will help amplify our digital content and grow our soon-to-launch membership offering. Apply by August 16.

2. Webinar: How can businesses put purpose at the centre of their work? 🌍
Singularity U faculty Allyson Hewitt will host a webinar on August 23 at 12pm ET on integrating purpose into businesses to increase talent retention, expand customer segments, access new forms of capital, and innovate your organization. Register now.

3. Applications open for Highline Beta’s Smart x Connected City Accelerator 🏙
Over 156,000 people are killed or seriously injured every year on Canadian roads. Startups that are working to create safer roads are invited to apply for Aviva and Highline Beta’s Smart x Connected City Accelerator. Apply by September 27.

4. Young leaders encouraged to apply for Youth Innovation Component of the Enabling Accessibility Fund 💰
While applications have closed for two of the Enabling Accessibility Fund’s funding streams, applications are open for young Canadians (15 -30 y/o) to apply as Youth Accessibility Leaders committed to making their communities more accessible. Apply by October 31.

5. Webinar: Discover practical steps to help your organization make more sustainable purchasing decisions 🌳
Organizations’ supply chains can produce up to four times the carbon emissions as their regular operations — and transitioning to sustainable procurement can drive both cost savings and revenue growth. Learn how to transition to more sustainable purchasing decisions in this webinar hosted by ECO Canada with HP Canada and WWF Canada. Register by August 6.


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