July Update: Message from Mei Lin

Leadership (People)

Dear Internauts,

Some have called this time of COVID-19 our “World Wide Pause.” For some of us — especially in the United States, Russia, India, and Brazil, where cases continue to rise — the pause is lasting longer than we could have imagined, while our friends in New Zealand, China, and many in the European Union cautiously reopen.

In the midst of these unique circumstances, we joined the world in marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, which was signed in San Francisco on June 26th, 1945. The preamble to the UN charter establishes what can still, to this day, be rightly called one of the most ambitious visions for the world on behalf of “We the Peoples of the United Nations.” Of course, the signatories could hardly have imagined a time when half the world would be digitally connected with the ability to instantly share experiences and information, or the challenges that would bring.

The international conversation about race is fundamentally intertwined with equity in technology. The UN Roadmap on Digital Cooperation, published June 11, couldn’t have been more clear about how gender, poverty, and cultural divides create unequal access. It is of the highest priority within PCI to assure that the voices of all can be at the table, and that as we build digital capacity worldwide, we do not exclude anyone. Our efforts to bring people together in informal networks of unlikely coalitions continue apace. 

We recently invited NEA’s Greg Papadoupolos, former MIT professor and co-author of “Citizen Engineer,” to discuss the role of “socially responsible engineering” in building the platforms and institutions of our 21st century world. He reminded us of the engineer’s oath:

I am an Engineer. 
In my profession I take deep pride. To it I owe solemn obligations. 
As an engineer, I, (full name), pledge to practice Integrity and Fair Dealing, Tolerance, and Respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and dignity of my profession, conscious always that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making best use of the Earth’s precious wealth. 
As an engineer, I shall participate in none but honest enterprises. When needed, my skill and knowledge shall be given without reservation for the public good. 
In the performance of duty, and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give the utmost.

One who truly embodies this oath and “obligation to serve humanity” is Matthew Rantanen and his continuous work to connect Native American tribes. We congratulate him on receipt of the 2020 Rose-Werle Award and I encourage you to listen to his interview here.

We are also proud to recognize the ongoing work in Puerto Rico, led by the business, academic, and government leaders who are a part of the “Echar Pa’lante” (Moving Forward) alliance. Our board member, Lin Wells, shares an update on his continued engagement to help develop a “Resiliency Innovation Network,” building on the recommendations of PCI’s 2018 working group.

As ever, I am inspired by the work of our community and welcome your ideas for how we can continue to work together to put humanity at the center of the Internet.

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