My nascent investment thesis — of sorts
It is hard to be optimistic about tech these days. If in the early 2010s we were all keen and positive, now we’ve seen the consequences — albeit unintended — of big tech.
The tech-lash is real and governments are scrambling and scratching their heads for solutions. Presidential hopeful Senator Warren wants to break up big tech. Andrew Yang (sadly no longer running for President) wanted to give every American a universal basic income to help the country deal with the challenges of automation.
I am not blind to any of this. Speak to everyone I know and they’ll tell you I’ve been vocal and critical about the issues tech companies have helped create. One of them is bias in AI, an issue that is finally being talked about but not as much as I would like. I spent a whole internship looking at the GDPR and what businesses should be doing about it. Although it has its issue, I am glad that something is being done to help preserve the privacy of individuals — at least in Europe.
Still, I believe that tech can be a force for good.
I’ve seen this first-hand during my undergrad. I was a member of It Happens Here Oxford, a campaign against sexual violence on campus. Through the help of volunteers and amazing people like Joy Buolamwini (who is the amazing founder of the Algorithmic Justice League), we created an app to help survivors of sexual violence and their friends get the information and help they needed in anonymity.
And I’ve seen this first-hand during my masters, where we were called to come up to leverage tech to help people gain access to legal information or help the elderly learn how to use technology.
I am not the only one who believes this. There are entrepreneurs out there building start-ups that are leveraging tech for good. Chatterbox helps you master a language with the help of refugee teachers. Benevolent AI is using AI for drug discovery, development, and testing.
I am pretty certain that with time we will see even more of them.
But why is this happening now?