“技术可以解决我们社会中最紧迫的挑战，同样也可以制造出新的重大问题。” 新美洲首席执行官安妮·玛丽·史劳特(Anne-Marie Slaughter)在一份声明中说，“无论哪种情况，我们都需要为公共利益服务的律师和经济学家一样多的技术人员，而这种高校网络将有助于培训以促进公共利益的新一代技术人员。”
It is safe to say that society evolves around technology.
But, most often, technologists only focus on innovation and profit. They aren’t instructed to consider the ethical implications of their decisions. This leaves society dangerously disconnected.
A new cohort of leading universities and organizations have partnered to address this divide. Together, they are working to make sure public interest and social good are prioritized in technology and computer science to the same degree as they are in law and the humanities.
The new organization, named the Public Interest Technology University Network, is comprised of 21 top colleges and universities, including Stanford, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), among others. It was launched with the support of the Ford Foundation, New America, and the Hewlett Foundation.
“Technology has incredible potential to solve some of our society’s most pressing challenges, as well as to create big new problems to address,” Anne-Marie Slaughter, the CEO of New America, said in a statement. “In either case, we need as many technologists as lawyers and economists working in the public interest, and this network of colleges and universities will help build a new generation of technologists trained to advance the public good.”
And as technology grows increasingly prevalent, it is inevitable that technologists will soon be sitting next to decision makers in government systems and companies, suggested Jenny Toomey, the Ford Foundation’s International Program Director.
“But the real question is, by the time we actually get technologists in all of the places they are going to need to be, will they be the right kinds of technologists?” she continued. “Meaning, will they be technologists that are effective at translating technology and working in a policy, NGO or legal environment. Will they be doing their work for public good, or are they only thinking about innovation?”
Up until now, most universities hadn’t felt the need to integrate technology with ethics and the humanities.
But that is just the beginning. As members of this network, all 21 universities have pledged to launch campus initiatives that advance public interest technology and shape the next generation of computer scientists.
“We believe an essential element of advancing social justice is ensuring technology is a force for public good,” Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, said in a statement.