By Marci Harris, Dr. David Bray
You are invited to get involved
On December 10th, 2018, the People-Centered Internet (PCI), will partner with Constellation Research to host a historic kick-off event. This historic cast of Internet pioneer and leaders in innovation as well as the next generation of positive #ChangeAgents with an eye to the future of bringing all of our global citizens online. The ‘People-Centered Digital Future’ focus specifically recognizes that by December 10th, 2018, more than 50% of the world will have access to the Internet. At the same time, the world will also celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (UN). This marks almost thirty years since the Internet was made publicly available.
PCI will assemble to share lessons about how we got here, and more importantly, discuss strategies on how to engage the next generation of innovators and leaders. This event will help guide our dialog on where we go next in order to ensure that the future of the Internet is community- and people-centered for each and every one of us around the globe.
The event will reflect on these milestones and examine important questions about what we must address to ensure that our emerging digital world will indeed continue to be “people-centered.” The origins of the Universal Declaration provides lessons for our ‘present day’, and the emerging response to one of the first truly global experiences that has impacted almost every person on the planet Aside from the wars of the 20th century, we have not seen a greater magnitude of growth since the world reckoned with a new shared existential threat of nuclear weaponry.
As background, it may come as surprise to learn that much of the original concept for the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was proposed by the science fiction writer, H.G. Wells. Yes, that H.G. Wells – of War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man! While Wells’ writing presaged many of the technologies of the 21st Century (including tanks, global warming, aerial flight and bombardment, radio, TV, video, the world wide web, the atom bomb, chemical weapons), H.G. Wells also wrote “The Rights of Man,” which was one of the primary sources for the eventual Universal Declaration.
Wells recognized that his ability to envision the great technological changes to come imbued a responsibility for us all to consider how humanity would be challenged and changed. As such, he proposed ways to respond and evolve sociological and political systems to meet new and existing challenges and ensure their use in service to humanity, rather than to its’ detriment.
The Declaration was a monumental acknowledgement by the nations of the world of a basic principle that every human is created equal and deserves certain inherent rights. Within this thought, tit is considered the conduct of nations or individuals in violation of these individual rights,is an affront to humanity, and that we, as individuals and as nations, are obliged to respect and defend these rights.
As with the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the declaration identified principles that resonated as fundamental and universal truths worthy of aspiration, even if, in many cases, they were beyond the practices or consciousness of the drafters and signers themselves.
The lines to present day are not difficult to draw. From nuclear proliferation to climate change and risk of pandemics, to the tremendous potential of machine learning and genetic engineering, the scientists and engineers of today understand that the world is changing exponentially. We have a growing appreciation for the risks and vulnerabilities of 21st century technological innovations.
Therefore, like H.G. Wells, we can see a glimpse of the great promise and great challenges ahead – many feel a great responsibility to ensure that these technologies are deployed for the benefit of all humanity.
In a similar vein, we will gather in December with experts in diverse fields, not simply to tick through of a list of emerging technologies, but to plant the seeds for on-going discussion. For example, how will these developments interact with each other and impact humanity? What agreements or governance will be required to ensure that these technologies are deployed to optimize human well-being and protect the human rights of every person on the planet?
In our interconnected 21st Century world, it is not enough for these important questions to be limited to a discrete technology or quarterly report. They cannot be punted to policymakers and considered outside the realm of those building and imagining what is possible. Those big thoughts cannot be limited to the people who touch on our own lifetimes with innovation and invention. Each of us, working together, must think bigger in order to contemplate the impacts of work we do today on every inhabitant of the globe, and on those generations to come.
On December 10, 2018, we will start a conversation, and invite the world to participate. This special charity “tech for good” event seeks to raise $50M to fund special People Centered-Internet (PCI) Challenge Awards in 2020, and these are designed to ensure that the Internet remains a force for good. The awards will be administered by the People-Centered Internet (PCI) coalition and will address society, education, environment, technology, and the future of human rights in a digital era.
You are invited to get involved as a sponsor for this historic event, if you are interested please let us know here.
Together, we can demonstrate a better way forward for the Internet by championing positive #ChangeAgents.