Technology for Evil - Special Insert Part 4.5

Don't forget - technology can be used for evil as well as for good.

We are reminded of this every day. The possible role of low-cost video and worldwide distribution in the events in Libya and Egypt yesterday brings the point, ever so sadly, home. And the difficulty in knowing who made the video, what their motivations were, and what role it really played in the protests and violence - we don't know yet and may never fully understand.

Think also of:

Decentralized and globally disbursed terrorist groups.

Distributed denial of service attacks.

Cyber security.

Nuclear and chemical weapons.

Citizen surveillance.

Government control of dissidents.

Digital shadows and the threats to activists.

Every thoughtful piece written on technology and the future, from Yochai Benkler, Cory Doctorow, Marc Goodman, Mimi Ito, Steven Berlin Johnson, Jaron Lanier, Larry Lessig, Rebecca MacKinnon, Evgeny Morozov, Howard Rheingold, Clay Shirky, Sherry Turkle, Ellen Ullman, Barbara Von Schewick, Jonathan Zittrain, and others, makes this point - even when the authors disagree on the end analysis (good or evil).

What does this all mean for philanthropy? In other posts in the series I've been writing about filtering and new skills.

  • How do you know whom to trust? 
  • How good is your BS detector? 
  • How do you know who is behind the work you're supporting? 
  • Are you putting people or grantees at risk with your communications plans or your data security?
  • Is your organization smart and safe about its data security, storage, and access?
  • How does individual privacy factor into your decision making?

[This is a special addition to the series I've been posting this week on the year ahead in technology and philanthropy. These short pieces will help me write the technology section of my annual industry forecast, Blueprint 2013, which will be available December 1. Please comment and suggest additions or corrections as what I learn here will inform the book. The previous posts, including their branches are here, here, here, and here. Thanks.]

I've also been experimenting with "live conversations" about the posts over on branch

1 comment:

David Lynn said...

Whether intentionally used for evil or not, sometimes results are not what was intended. Lately I've been thinking about big data (I'm a fan, generally) and what kind of effect it has had on politics and the media. Negative, I would say, as the niche segmenting has led to all sorts of societal cohesion and resource expense issues (big data created niches? that's an amusing topic in itself).

So what's to say that big data will actually end up being a positive for philanthropy? education? etc? Maybe being able to target/know our donors and outcomes better will actually reduce long-term impact and/or cohesion.