Jenny Toomey (a director at the Ford Foundation) and Professor Latanya Sweeney (an MIT educated computer scientist) use several historic and modern-day examples to highlight the importance of early government, civic, private sector, and academic engagement when it comes to addressing the public safety and equity concerns of new technologies. This early engagement and involvement is often difficult in practice, most notably because of today’s rapid pace of change and the lack of technologists within government who deeply understand the latest technologies. Despite the complexities and difficulties involved, they suggest broad awareness and widespread participation are necessary to deliver technologies that are in the public interest. To help guarantee a more prosperous and equitable future, we need to go a few steps beyond the idea of “tech for good” to also ask the question: “good for whom?” This publication was the first of an in-depth series sponsored in part by the Ford Foundation on public interest technology.
Toomey, J., & Sweeney, L. (2022). Building the Public Interest Technology Infrastructure of the Future. Stanford Social Innovation Review. https://doi.org/10.48558/Y15Y-EJ92