Responsible Technology, or techplomacy, is a growing space focused on the risks to democracy posed by mis- or disinformation, diversifying the tech HR pipeline, and ensuring that the use of digital technology aligns with the public interest. It was the focus of our recent Responsible Tech Summit, developed with partner organization All Tech is Human, a New York-based non-profit that unites a diverse range of stakeholders aiming to create a better tech future.
Using the theme Improving Digital Space, thought leaders from industry, civil society, academia, and government explored the challenges posed by unregulated AI and suggested possible ways forward toward a more human-centric use of technology. More than 100 people attended the in-person event; another 800 people tuned into the livestream.
The day kicked off with introductory remarks form Saliou Babou, Consul & Head of Innovation, followed by a keynote address from Deputy Consul General André Frenette. Deputy Consul Frenette highlighted Canadian leadership in responsible tech through the recent launch of the Responsible Business Conduct Strategy by Canadian Minister of International Trade Mary Ng.
The Responsible Business Conduct Strategyoffers Canadian tech companies a framework and digital tools to increase sustainability and uphold human rights. Deputy Consul Frenette also emphasized Canada’s commitment to combatting cyber threats and misinformation on social media platforms following Budget 2022. Concluding the opening remarks by highlighting the importance of Responsible Tech, David Ryan Polger, Founder and Director of All Tech is Human, noted that “The future of tech is not a done deal. But there’s no magic button. We need to create an ecosystem of collective knowledge.”
Throughout the morning, in-person and virtual participants attended two panels. The first panel, moderated by Dr. Jamie Cohen, an Assistant Professor at CUNY Queens College, discussed free expression rights and regulations in digital spaces. The panelists included Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America; Nora Benavidez, Director of Digital Justice & Civil Rights at Free Press; and Amruta Deshpande, Senior Researcher at Graphika. The second panel centered on building and maintaining positive digital spaces. Saima Akhtar, Associate Director of Vagelos Computational Science Center at Barnard College, moderated a three-person panel comprising of Joi Rae, Head of Operations and Partnerships at New_Public; Gabo Arora, Founder & CEO of LIGHTSHED and a former UN Diplomat; and Dona Bellow, Advisor at Trust & Safety Professional Association.
In the afternoon, participants attended a panel on algorithmic transparency moderated by Maria Bridge, Chief Communications Officer at the Center for Humane Technology, and a second on tech policy and social media, moderated by Kate Townsend, Director of Policy at World Wide Foundation. The panelists for the panel on algorithmic transparency were Irene Solaiman, AI Research & Public Policy Manager at Hugging Face; Natalia Domagala, Head of Data and AI Ethics in the UK Cabinet Office; and Renée Cummings, Data Activist in Residence at the University of Virginia. The panelists on tech policy and social media included Fred Langford, Director of Online Technology at Ofcom; Dhanaraj Thakur, Research Director for Center for Democracy and Technology; and Harsha Bhatlapenumarthy, Governance Manager at Meta. During this panel, moderator Kate Townsend noted regard the Web’s ongoing development that, “We’re all building it. We all get a say about what we want it to look like.”
The summit also featured three fireside chats with three speakers, Yu Ping Chan, Yaël Eisenstat, and Julie Inman Grant, as well as a topical conversation on creating a tech pipeline aligned with public interests with Trade Commissioner Services clients keynote speakers Laura McGee, Co-Founder & CEO of Diversio and Azhar Juanjua, Head of Outposts at Communitech, as well as University Ambassador Vivian Chong MBA Candidate at Yale School of Management. These speakers and discussions all provided the summit’s attendees with additional insight into Responsible Tech. A complete list and biography of all panelists, moderators, speakers, and interviewers can be found at www.responsibletechsummit.splashthat.com.