Recent events at OpenAI have focused attention on the battle between company purpose and profit. Between forces motivated to ensure AI benefits society, and those who view AI through a purely commercial lens. At The New York Times Dealbook conference yesterday, Elon Musk recounted how he helped found the organization precisely because he was worried about Google’s lack of appreciation for the impacts of AI on the human species. OpenAI’s structure – a for-profit owned by a nonprofit – has been pinpointed by some as the root cause of the problem. Speaking about it on CNN, Scott Galloway said “You’re either a for-profit entity seeking commercial success, or a non-profit thinking about risk to humanity.”
To me, OpenAI’s structure may have exposed some inherent tensions, but it is not necessarily the reason for them. Many companies, including Newman’s Own, Inc. and IKEA, have made hybrid nonprofit/for-profit structures work, and many purely commercial entities have pursued financial gain and materially advanced society without sacrificing their souls. As I noted in a recent LinkedIn post, the truth is that in business today, you must do both. Indeed, the best path to making plenty of money for investors over the long term is by creating value for all stakeholders. Our research at JUST Capital shows this time and again.
We explored the concept of just and responsible corporate practices with major field builders at a private event this week under the auspices of our JUST AI Initiative. Chatham House rules prevent me from providing specifics, but I will relay that government oversight, company governance, and enforceable standards (of practice, model training and development, and more) were key themes. Whether this is sufficient to match the pace, size and complexity of looming AI threats is a critical question.
JUST Capital Matching Challenge
This week marked Giving Tuesday and the launch of JUST Capital’s matching challenge. Through December 12, all donations made to our organization will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous Board member to help secure a just future for workers and communities across the country!
We have made a positive impact on 1.2 million workers to date thanks to donor support and we aim to scale up this impact over the years to come. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by December 12. Please help us reach this goal with a tax-deductible donation today!
JUST In the News
This week JUST Capital hosted a virtual roundtable event, Defining and Incentivizing Just Corporate AI Practices, connected to our JUST AI Initiative. JUST’s Founder and Chairman Paul Tudor Jones convened top AI and business leaders to explore how the private sector should be approaching AI while holding the “tension between profitability and social benefit,” as one attendee put it. The dynamic group had a robust discussion about the private sector’s imperative to lead and align on systemic solutions that will protect stakeholders in the age of AI. If you’d like to learn more about our JUST AI Initiative and join future conversations like this one, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
At The New York Times’ Dealbook Summit as part of its Groundbreakers series, JUST Capital’s CEO Martin Whittaker hosted a packed panel where attendees had the opportunity to “learn from leaders reshaping the business landscape.” Martin’s discussion focused on the question – How do corporate leaders navigate a political environment where business and its commitments to policies like ESG and DEI, are putting them in the political fray And how should they navigate that tricky terrain to make sure they are boosting the bottom line and doing good?
JUST Capital announces its partnership with the Schultz Family Foundation and the American Opportunity Index to explore the corporate policies and practices that lead to real-world outcomes on worker equity and mobility. Our partnership will highlight leading companies and build upon insights from the JUST Jobs Scorecard and the American Opportunity Index to connect the dots between corporate policies and worker outcomes. The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company report on the latest version of The American Opportunity Index, released this week.
JUST Capital Advisor Susan McPherson joins Dr. Gillian Marcelle and Alix Lebec to pen an op-ed in Investment Monitor arguing that the finance world needs a paradigm shift to effectively address climate change, emphasizing the need for investors, asset owners, and managers to rethink their strategies towards achieving sustainability and climate resilience, alongside the need for profitable returns.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“The AI revolution is a trust revolution. Without placing trust and safety at the center, no amount of innovation will drive the widespread adoption of this technology necessary to invoke transformative use cases for individuals, organizations, and societies.”
- Sabastian Niles, President and Chief Legal Officer at Salesforce, speaks to why companies need to lead with trust when it comes to AI at our roundtable event.
“Investors ought to be looking at how you incentivize really positive, socially conscious uses of AI through the private sector.”
- Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media and JUST Capital Board Emeritus Member, speaks to the importance of incentivizing just AI practices at our roundtable event.
CNBC reports that Meta has officially broken up its responsible AI team, redistributing employees across its Generative AI and AI Infrastructure divisions. “We continue to prioritize and invest in safe and responsible AI development,” a Meta spokesperson said of the move.
Related, Axios takes a look at the AI pioneers who say it will prove impossible to develop constraints on the technology, as the profit motive to get things done more, better, and faster will override any safety measures.
Sports Illustrated is in the middle of a media controversy this week when it was revealed that the outlet published articles from fake, AI-generated writers.
Former IBM CEO Ginni Rommetty speaks to Fortune and states that she believes once generative AI fully integrates into the workforce, “it will put a premium on soft skills like collaboration, judgment, and critical thinking.”
Bloomberg looks at the growing number of AI deepfake porn victims that are discovering no laws exist to help them fight back against this growing problem.
Vox takes a look at the continuous downturn of economic sentiment despite rising wages and plenty of jobs. “It’s a good time to be a worker and a bad time to be a consumer – the problem is most people are both.” Higher wages have little impact if the price of goods rises to match, or in many cases, outpace them.
Some wage raises are coming with strings attached. USA Today looks at how companies are cutting benefits to afford all of these pay raises and whether that trade-off is worth it.
Fortune covers the myriad of ways large companies are trying to compel employees back to the office next year and the growing wave of disability discrimination lawsuits from disabled employees being forced back into the office despite no dip in productivity in the years spent working at home.
Fast Company reveals that among the 10 highest paying occupations, women are underrepresented in nine.
Following the autoworker strikes, GM is planning a $10 billion stock buyback in order to calm nervous investors. The Wall Street Journal has the story.
CHART OF THE WEEK
This chart comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and shows that even as average hourly earnings go up, weekly earnings are falling. Like a smaller candy bar sold for the same price, jobs are experiencing shrinkflation. Year over year, average real hourly earnings grew in July, August, and September 2023, and they are basically flat from February 2020-September 2023. The gains, however, were more modest for average real weekly earnings. In fact, weekly earnings declined in September 2023 by 0.1% due to a decrease in the average workweek. These data suggest that employers are responding to price pressures by reducing employees’ hours, thus decreasing Americans’ take home pay and straining family budgets.
We go more in-depth into this and more research in our quarterly JUST Investor newsletter, launching this Tuesday. If you would like to receive that newsletter, click here.