Giving Compass' Take: 

• The author relays her journey into the field of public interest tech, sharing her thoughts on 'technosolutions' and that more integrative approaches are needed to solve social problems. 

• How can the public interest tech companies create networks and partnerships with organizations in the social sector?

• Read about organizations ready to invest in public interest tech. 

I’ve only become more convinced that this is a critical moment in our species’ relationship with our planet, and that we have a real opportunity to reposition our structures, institutions, and communities to carry us forward in increasing harmony.

For a long time, I’ve been passionate about ensuring that technology empowers people to pursue a more equitable and sustainable path. My first job out of grad school was in an area sometimes called “technology futurism”: I wrote about the intersection of tech development, business, culture, and regulation for multinational companies and government intelligence agencies.

Today, as one of the Ford Foundation’s tech fellows, I see part of my role as embracing interconnection. The problems our world faces very often can’t be solved in a linear way: they are complex, with multiple angles and entry points; they can’t be reduced to simply good or bad, right or wrong. Much of the work in public interest technology today focuses on pushing back against “technosolutionism,” or the ideology that a technology-first approach can “solve” social problems of all kinds—from educational inequality to thriving misinformation.

As a discipline, public interest technology is drawing from diverse fields to reframe problems so that the public, in all of its complexity, diversity, and disorder, is at the center of our efforts to pursue “progress.” In order to do this, we need to be able to seamlessly understand and transition between a number of modes of thinking and analysis.

Read the full article about public interest tech by Michelle Shevin at Ford Foundation.