Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Kentaro Toyama ─ Can Digital Technology Alleviate Global Poverty?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Email WatsonEvents@brown.edu to register for this virtual event.

What value is digital technology to a farmer in Ethiopia earning $1 a day? Can tablet devices be used to improve education in failing public schools? How do you design user interfaces for an illiterate migrant worker in India? Over the last 15 years, the interdisciplinary field of information & communication technologies and development (ICTD) has explored these and other questions about digital technology and international socio-economic development. The associated research community -- which includes engineers, humanists, and social scientists -- encompasses beliefs ranging from tech-utopianism to extreme skepticism about technology. This talk will summarize some of the expressed consensus in ICTD, describe a "Law of Amplification" that explains some aspects of the tech-development dynamic, and offer practical recommendations for meaningful application of technology in global development.

Kentaro Toyama is W. K. Kellogg Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School of Information, a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, co-founder of Microsoft Research India, and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology.

Development Seminar