Connection Problem S09E01: #2022

Note: This is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter in an attempt to both to make it easier to read this via RSS feed and to have this in my own independent archives. You can subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox.

Hello Friends,

After a long hiatus, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some updates. 

Before I get into details, because it’s been quite a while, a quick reminder who I am and why this email might be in your inbox: My name is Peter Bihr and you may have found me via my website or Twitter (@peterbihr), two places where I talk a lot about responsible tech, emerging tech, policy around responsible and emerging tech. Or maybe through the ThingsCon network, which I co-founded. I’m also co-host of the Getting Tech Right podcast. And while I’m very happy that you’re reading this, as always, the unsubscribe is always just a click away down in the footer.

Also, as always, I love hearing back from you. Feel free to just hit reply on this email or reach out for a proper chat anytime.



Updates from the engine room

These last few months have been busy, and I’m happy to share some updates:

Mercator Foundation

For the last half year or so I’ve been working with Stiftung Mercator, specifically with their Digital Society focus area led by Carla Hustedt. Mercator is a tremendous foundation working to support societal cohesion and a thriving democracy, their Digital Society program is ambitious, well thought-out, and I believe will fill an important gap in the German funding landscape. Last but not least, Carla is smart, knowledgeable, dedicated and the perfect person to lead this effort.

European AI Fund

I’m happy & humbled that I’m also serving as Interim Director of the European AI Fund. I’ll be stepping in temporarily, continuing the outstanding work that the fund’s inaugural director Frederike Kaltheuner has done building out the program to date, until the new director starts.

For some background: The European AI Fund is a philanthropic initiative to shape the direction of AI in Europe. Our long-term vision is to promote an ecosystem of European public interest and civil society organizations working on policy and technology, based on a diversity of actors and a plurality of goals that represents society as a whole.

Getting Tech Right

Some of you may remember the Getting Tech Right podcast, an attempt to explore how we can think better about tech & society. It’s aimed at policy makers and funders, at decision makers at foundations and in the public sector—but I believe it’s relevant to a much broader audience. This podcast is co-hosted by me and long-time collaborator and friend Patrick Tanguay (who also writes the excellent Sentiers newsletter). 

We basically try to learn about relevant angles that deserve more attention, always with this question in mind: How can funders and policy makers use their positions of leverage and influence for the best possible societal outcomes?

We’re just starting to prepare for a second season, and I’m very much looking forward to having those conversations. You can subscribe to the podcast in all major podcast apps and directories. 


Small bits & pieces

 NYC’s AI & IoT Strategies

A while back, New York City’s CTO office had asked me for feedback to drafts of New York’s new NYC IoT Strategy. That strategy has long been published, but they recently also put out a first progress report (PDF). Additionally, New York City now also has an AI Strategy. I’m mentioning this because I think it’s noteworthy that cities have a role to play in these questions, especially the heavy hitters that have resources to bring to bear, and that sometimes are the best line of defense of their citizens’ rights.

German government roadmap

Germany recently elected a new government, and the coalition agreement puts a heavy emphasis on all things digital. It’s an ambitious, if somewhat vague, document. And while a lot has happened since it was published some 6 weeks ago, I think it’s still worth pointing to this first quick analysis I posted at the time.


If you’d like to work with me or have a chat to explore collaborations, let’s chat! 


Who writes here? Peter Bihr explores how emerging technologies can have a positive social impact. At the core of his work is the mission to align emerging technologies and citizen empowerment. He works as an independent advisor at the intersection of technology, governance, policy and social impact — primarily with foundations, non-profits and the public sector. Peter serves as special advisor to Stiftung Mercator’s Center for Digital Society, and as Interim Director for the European AI Fund. He co-founded ThingsCon, a not-for-profit that advocates for responsible practices in Internet of Things (IoT), and co-hosts the Getting Tech Right podcast. Peter was a Mozilla Fellow (2018-19) and an Edgeryders Fellow (2019). Based in Berlin, he tweets at @peterbihr and blogs at Interested in working together? Let’s have a chat.

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