Power to Save Lives

I saw this tweet the other day and thought it was rather clever. 

It touched on the idea that the promise of frontier technologies, like machine learning and artificial intelligence, have the potential to save more lives than all of the philanthropy we have ever done throughout history. Take all the donations, fundraisers, and events we have thrown in aid of different causes...and technology still has 100x the potential to make more impact. 

What are your thoughts on this? 

Should we defund philanthropy and focus all of our time/money/resources on building technology? Is technology *the* best solution to our world's problems? 

I am not sure.

I think my initial, gut reaction is not particularly unique in that I got defensive. I have participated in charitable events for years now...Have I just been wasting resources/time? Obviously there is more nuance and complexity than the statement leads to believe. 

Charity does have a purpose in our world. Right? At least I have always believed it did. 

I also would amend the statement to include the word "education" rather than technology. I think educating society has high potential for impact, which, in turn, will create life-saving technologies. 

Anyways...curious to hear your thoughts!!


1 response
This is a thought provoking idea. And I think a lot of technologists share the sentiment. The other side of the argument, however, is one that Bill Gates has brought to the spotlight over the years of trying to eradicate Polio. Gates spent ten years just trying to solve the problem with ever more advanced technology. But eventually he, and his foundation, realized that that wasn't where the energy needed to be focused. What they needed to do was simply to put their nose to the ground and keep on issuing medicine and vaccines for years and years until the thing was done away with. Dry, boring, non-glamorous work with little of the action and intellectual stimulation that tech is normally associated with. Yet in the end, that was what would be sure to eradicate the disease once and for all.