In 2021, I’m offering remote workshops as well as discreet consultation sessions for policy makers, investment managers in foundations and public funding bodies, and public sector managers to help them explore the unintended consequences of new technologies and how they might future-proof their thinking and approach to technology.
If this resonates with you, ping me.
Also, that paragraph above is pretty dense, so let me elaborate.
Foundations, policy makers and public sector have a disproportionate role to play in the way society uses, shapes, and responds to technology. Policy makers set the rules and frameworks that society — and the tech sector! — play by. Public sector is one of the biggest spenders and buyers of technology, and hence can massively shape the market through procurement. And foundations are in a hugely influential position when it comes to coordinating societal interventions, to amplify important civil society actors, and to fund research and activism. Because of this outsized impact, these groups need to be in a position to make the best-informed decisions possible. Building on a decade of work at the intersection of tech and society, I’ve been doing research with that exact focus and will publish my findings with that exact goal.
The discussion around technology is shaped massively by corporate lobbying, which paints a one-sided picture. In many cases, civil society has a much better understanding of the real issues at stake. That’s why it is so important to give a much higher priority to civil society’s role in policy debates when it comes to the impact of technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT, or smart cities — and to better fund their work.
Part of the challenge is that all these groups mentioned above — policy makers, foundations and funders, as well as public sector leadership — have their plate full and don’t have the time to follow the often fragmented discourse around technology and its impact. There’s a lot going on, after all. To give just a few examples of the many-faceted issues: There are civil rights issues as well as gender, race, transparency and governance questions; economic and social justice questions; many types of technology at many different stages of maturity; and specific challenges at each of the many intersections of the areas mentioned above. So often, these decision-makers are by necessity responsive rather than pro-active. More concentrated efforts by larger interest groups get their attention more easily than small groups working on the cutting edge, even if they’re not more important. Media attention tends to impact their thinking along with hype cycles. That’s all very much understandable, even if it’s not necessarily helpful.
I believe it’s important for these groups to be strategic, intentional and pro-active in their choices. Which means they need to be in the best possible position to make informed decisions, and be attuned to the often complex and thorny types of questions that arise where technology intersects with societal issues. Future-proofing their thinking and their approach to technology isn’t rocket science, but it requires a shift in mindset from reactive to proactive. It’s empowerment in the purest sense of the word. It’s also the safest and best way to maximize the impact of their interventions and actions.
Which brings us to my last point: This year, I’ll be offering remote workshops as well as discreet, confidential consultation sessions for policy makers, investment managers and public sector managers to help them explore the unintended consequences of new technologies and how they might future-proof their thinking and approach to technology. Workshops are self-explanatory: We’ll discuss their organizations’ needs and custom tailor something. But/and sometimes, all it takes is a confidential conversation with someone at the leadership level to ask some questions, get a brain dump, or sharpen their own thinking by bouncing a few ideas in a non-judgmental setting that nobody else ever needs to know about. We can arrange that, no problem.
Based on my experience, the best results arise not from one-offs but from occasional check-ins over time. A monthly call can do wonders. And pretty soon, everyone’s at the top of their game and we can look at a 3-5 year strategy.