Using Tech for Net-Positive Impact
A look at how we can leverage technology for good in our careers, and beyond
Tech firms like a16z have preached for years that tech is “eating the world”. While waking up to a device that dictates your sleep schedule might make you feel that way, tech is also the greatest framework for democratised impact since humans discovered we could shout.
The barrier many of us face to making an impact with tech sounds like this: “BUT I’m not a developer / programmer / tech-head.”
In this month’s newsletter, Harrison.ai’s Head of Foundation, Tim Middlemiss (who also co-founded Ripple 🤯), is here to reassure you that it doesn’t matter if you’re “techy” or not. The future of impact is here and it’s begging you to be a part of it 🙏
Read on for Tim’s 4 principles for your career in impact and tech, and a list of reads around the intersection between these.
P.S: Our Humans for Good Sydney potluck dinner is back and happening next Tuesday night! Grab your ticket for a night of good conversations (including hearing from Kirstin Hunter and Veronica Mason) below 🥘
4 things we need to know about careers in impact tech, by Tim Middlemiss - incurable extrovert, impact zig-zagger, and Head of Foundation at Harrison.ai
You don't have to 'be tech' to work 'in tech'
Sure, after a decade in digital I've picked up a couple of things - but I've still never been on GitHub. The thing is, tech is the sector that will shape the future, so don't rule yourself out because you don't know how to code. The sector needs people with a whole range of skills to truly flourish, especially those who want to make sure tech works for people and not the other way around.
Tech needs impact to really shape the future
Because of its capacity to scale, tech reaches people quickly. If it's not done well bad things happen.. cough (example I'm too afraid to give in writing for legal reasons) cough... For tech to be trusted, and now even for it to be used, we need to not only understand its impact, but ensure that impact is net-positive (well, expect when it comes to carbon where it should be at least net-zero). If you have up-skilled in impact, or community building, or governance, the tech industry will need you.
Not all tech is created equal
I'm definitely biased here, but take AI. Sure, all the noise is about AI sites that compose slightly wonky artworks of people very quickly, but beyond that – stuff is getting made right now to tackle our hairiest of problems. At Harrison.ai, we're creating comprehensive diagnostic support for radiologists so they don't miss diagnoses here in Australia, and so that in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, with just a handful of radiologists, millions of people have access to medical support they never had before. So if you're entering this field, choose wisely where you want to ply your trade.
Don't lose your network connection
Ok, I tried way too hard to crowbar in a tech pun here. But basically, while the worlds of tech and of impact are both growing and colliding, it's easy to feel uncertain or unclear about where you are heading or what your job even is. So be sure to surround yourself with people that will help to guide you through. Think of them as your own personal sub-committees, but maybe don't tell them that. I try to make sure I'm regularly connecting with a few 'categories' of people - those who will hold me to my purpose, those who will help lift my vision, those who will teach me new things I couldn't learn elsewhere, and those that will bring me back down to earth.
Reads & resources
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think will expand your mind on how to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future
Sign up for this event on the 1st June to hear about climate, health and AI, join the Climate Salad community to connect with people working in the climate tech space, or learn how AI can be used against modern day slavery at this conference
International Intrigue is a daily newsletter written by ex-diplomats that keeps you across the big stuff in foreign affairs, and helps lift the context you see your impact work playing in
If you’re interested in learning more about careers in impact and tech, take a look at econome (their third climate careers cohort is open now 👀), Startmate’s Climate Tech Fellowship, and 80 000 Hours’ many resources in this space
Food for thought
“It's not a faith in technology. It's faith in people.” – Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple
“Technology gives us the facilities that lessen the barriers of time and distance – the telegraph and cable, the telephone, radio, and the rest.” – Emily Greene Balch, Economist and Nobel Prize Winner
“Even if you fail in doing something ambitious, you usually succeed in doing something important.” – Peter H. Diamandis, Founder of XPRIZE Foundation
Our next potluck is coming up
Bring a dish and your curiosity for a night of great conversation, inspiring guest speakers, and good food – it's our second-ever HFG potluck!
This will be a wholesome evening in a NY-style loft in Chippendale, Sydney where you get to dive your culture, your story, and your passion for impact over a meal as we celebrate stories happening in the Humans For Good community.
When: 6pm, Tuesday 30 May
Where: 19-23 Wellington Street, Chippendale, Sydney
Guests: Kirstin Hunter (Co-Founder at Future Super, former Brighte exec, Chairperson at Ocean Impact Organisation, and Managing Director at Techstars in Sydney) and Veronica Mason (high-performance coach and Finalist for the Out For Australia Role Model of the Year award)
Bring: A dish 🍱
We have limited spots, so if you'd like to join us please grab your ticket ASAP 😄
Thanks for reading and sharing!
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