Image: Illuminat via Reddit
In the past year, ChatGPT has become the focus of intense public interest and discussion. Its inventors and advocates argue we should consider carefully both the ways that tools like Chat GPT can be used and the guardrails that need to be constructed so that artificial intelligence (AI) is not used unfairly or inappropriately. As Public Interest Technologists we want to be part of that conversation. We propose to strike up a conversation with Chat GPT4 about the idea of public interest technology and to engage those who see themselves as public interest technologists.
ChatGPT4 is an artificial intelligence chatbot released on March 14, 2023. ChatGPT4 has been designed to replicate human-like conversation over a wide range of topics and to produce information that is context specific as succinctly as possible. This iteration of ChatGPT4 was “trained” on nearly 100 trillion parameters. That is more than five times the data utilized in training the previous model, ChatGPT3.
EF: Who are some key figures of public interest technology ?
There are many key figures in the field of public interest technology, including:
1. Megan Smith - Former Chief Technology Officer of the United States and founder of the organization Tech Jobs Tour, which promotes diversity in the tech industry.
2. Cathy O'Neil - Mathematician and author of the book "Weapons of Math Destruction," which examines the negative impact of algorithms on society.
3. Mara Mintzer - Founder of the consulting firm Growing Up Boulder, which focuses on integrating children and youth into city planning processes.
4. Ethan Zuckerman - Director of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-founder of the international blogging platform Global Voices.
5. Nnena Nkongho - Founder of the organization Africans in AI, which promotes the development and use of artificial intelligence technologies in Africa.
6. Beth Noveck - Director of the Governance Lab at New York University, which focuses on using technology to improve democratic governance and public participation.
7. Nick Sinai - Senior advisor at Insight Partners and former United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer, who has worked on issues related to innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology policy.
8. Jen Pahlka - Founder and executive director of Code for America, a non-profit organization that works to improve government services through technology and design.
These individuals, along with many others, have played important roles in advancing public interest technology and promoting the use of technology for social good.
EF: Who are some key actors of public interest technology?
The field of public interest technology involves many different actors, including:
1. Technologists: These are individuals with technical expertise who are dedicated to using their skills to advance the public interest. They may work in various sectors, such as government, non-profit organizations, or private companies.
2. Policymakers: Policymakers play an important role in shaping the regulatory and legal environment surrounding technology, including issues related to privacy, cybersecurity, and digital equity.
3. Advocates: Advocates work to promote public interest technology and ensure that technology is used in ways that align with social justice and democratic values. They may work in non-profit organizations, community groups, or other advocacy organizations.
4. Researchers: Researchers study the impact of technology on society and work to develop new technologies that address social challenges.
5. Community organizations: Community organizations play an important role in advocating for the needs of marginalized or underserved communities, and they often work with technologists and policymakers to ensure that public interest technology solutions address the needs of these communities.
6. Private sector: Private sector actors, including technology companies and investors, play an important role in developing and deploying new technologies that can advance the public interest. However, there is also a need for accountability and oversight to ensure that these actors are acting in the public interest and not solely for profit.
7. Citizens: Finally, citizens play an important role in shaping the direction of public interest technology. Through engagement and participation in public forums, citizens can help to ensure that public interest technology is designed and used in ways that align with their needs and values.
EF: What research topics are part of public interest technology as a field of research?
Public interest technology is an emerging field that focuses on leveraging technology and data to advance the public interest and address societal challenges. Some of the research topics within this field include:
1. Digital privacy and security: researching ways to protect individuals' personal information and data from online threats and privacy violations.
2. Algorithmic bias and fairness: examining how algorithms and machine learning models can perpetuate systemic biases and developing methods to ensure fairness and accuracy.
3. Digital equity and access: researching ways to bridge the digital divide and ensure equal access to technology and information for underserved communities.
4. Civic engagement and participation: exploring how technology can be used to enhance civic engagement and increase public participation in government and decision-making processes.
5. Government transparency and accountability: researching ways to use technology to increase transparency and accountability in government operations and decision-making.
6. Disaster response and recovery: studying how technology can be used to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and support recovery efforts.
7. Ethical considerations in technology development and use: exploring the ethical implications of technology development and use, including issues such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and unintended consequences of technology.
8. Environmental sustainability: researching ways to use technology to address environmental challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.
9. Healthcare technology: exploring how technology can improve healthcare delivery and outcomes, including areas such as telemedicine, medical imaging, and electronic health records.
10. Social justice and human rights: researching ways to use technology to advance social justice and protect human rights, including issues such as online harassment, hate speech, and censorship.
EF: What policy or technology improvements can help to make public interest technology work in the public interest?
There are several policy and technology improvements that can help make public interest technology work in the public interest:
1. Increased transparency: Governments and other organizations should be transparent about the technology they use and how it is used to ensure that it aligns with public interest goals.
2. Ethical standards: Technologists and organizations should adhere to ethical standards and codes of conduct that promote transparency, fairness, and accountability in the development and use of technology.
3. Inclusive design: Technology solutions should be designed with input from diverse communities to ensure that they are inclusive and address the needs of all stakeholders.
4. Data privacy and security: Policies and technologies should be in place to protect individuals' personal data from breaches, cyberattacks, and unauthorized access.
5. Open data: Governments and other organizations should make data available to the public in open formats to promote transparency and enable innovation.
6. Digital literacy and education: Promoting digital literacy and education is essential to ensuring that all individuals can use and benefit from public interest technology solutions.
7. Collaboration and partnerships: Public interest technology efforts should be collaborative and involve partnerships between government, non-profit organizations, academia, and the private sector to ensure that technology solutions are developed with input from all stakeholders.
8. Accountability and oversight: Mechanisms should be in place to ensure accountability and oversight in the development and use of public interest technology solutions, including independent auditing and review processes.
By adopting these policy and technology improvements, public interest technology can better serve the public interest and promote social good.
EF: What does it mean to create technology in the public interest?
Creating technology in the public interest means designing, developing, and deploying technology solutions that prioritize social good and the needs of the broader public over individual or corporate interests. This can involve several different approaches, including:
1. Addressing social challenges: Technology solutions should be developed with the goal of addressing social challenges and promoting social justice. This may involve addressing issues such as economic inequality, access to education and healthcare, and environmental sustainability.
2. Prioritizing public benefit: Technology solutions should prioritize the public benefit over individual or corporate interests. This means designing solutions that are accessible, affordable, and widely available, and that provide tangible benefits to the public.
3. Promoting transparency and accountability: Public interest technology should be developed and used in a transparent and accountable manner. This means providing clear information about how technology is developed and deployed, and ensuring that there are mechanisms in place for oversight and accountability.
4. Engaging with diverse communities: Public interest technology should be developed with the input and engagement of diverse communities, including those that are traditionally marginalized or underserved. This can help ensure that technology solutions are inclusive and meet the needs of all stakeholders.
Overall, creating technology in the public interest involves designing and deploying technology solutions that prioritize social good and the needs of the broader public over individual or corporate interests.