The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
We are a research-to-action project dedicated to building a future where technology serves humanity and public purpose drives innovation.
- Technology's advance is inevitable, and it often brings with it much progress for some. Yet progress for all is not guaranteed. We have an obligation to foresee the dilemmas presented by emerging technology and to generate solutions to them.
- There is no silver bullet; effective solutions to technology-induced dilemmas require a mix of government regulation and tech-sector self-governance.
- Ensuring a future where public purpose drives innovation requires the next generation of tech and policy leaders to act; we must support and inspire them to implement sustainable solutions and carry the torch.
To this end, our project works to ensure that emerging technologies are developed and managed in ways that serve the overall public good.
We do this by:
- Designing resources and practical solutions to the dilemmas of technological change in the digital domain, biotech, jobs and training sectors.
- Engaging and convening leaders from research universities, tech industry CEOs and senior scientists, entrepreneurs, current and former policymakers, and experts in law, regulation, and ethics, in a non-political, analysis-based forum where they can meet, talk, and solve problems.
- Training and inspiring a new generation of technology leaders and thinkers to make advancing public purpose a part of their life calling.
Event & Publication Highlights
DESIGNING RESOURCES AND PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS
Factsheets and primers: The TAPP Technology Primers offer an overview of the technical aspects of salient technologies and their public purpose relevance for policymakers and their staff. As a collaboration between policy and technical experts, these primers provide policy professionals with an accessible resource that brings its readers up to speed at a conversational level. Each brief is accompanied with a series of questions that policymakers should consider as they pursue future work on these evolving issues.
Interested in a factsheet topic not already included in our series?
Democracy and Internet Governance Initiative (DIGI): A joint initiative between the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. The Initiative convened leading experts and stakeholders to evaluate policy and self-governance options for short- and long-term action on high-priority issues areas. The team will develop high-level recommendations for U.S. policymakers and private state actors in three key areas: The Right to Safety: Countering Extremism and Incitement to Violence Online; The Right to Speak: Addressing Networked Harrassment, Chilled Speech, and Diminished Press Freedom; The Right to Truth: Mitigating Misinformation and Disinformation at Scale.
Building a 21st Century Congress: This initiative focuses on exploring two primary questions: 1. How can U.S. policymakers better understand the next generation of emerging technologies and their societal implications? 2. How can we make more educated decisions on the basic and applied research needed to solve the next generation of emerging threats?
Responsible Investing: In the last few years, the world’s largest tech companies have run into major challenges in managing societal issues—the result of which has been governments, media, and activists taking a much deeper look how foundational values and cultures were shaped. TAPP's research efforts in responsible investing seek to understand several challenges and uncover potential solutions for advancing the management of societal impacts of venture capital firms and portfolio companies.
Venture Capital Public Purpose Indicator for Investors: The Venture Capital and Public Purpose Indicator is a tool that helps venture capitalists and early-stage startups assess their company and technology for public purpose, specifically around negative consequences. The Indicator will help VCs evaluate their portfolios to ensure startups are planning for business and public risks related to the environment, economic inequality, labor, privacy and more. https://venturecapitalpublicpurpose.com
ENGAGING AND CONVENING LEADERS
Boston Tech Hub Working Group: The Boston Tech Hub Faculty Working Group (FWG) holds monthly discussion-based meetings that explore and answer the question: How do we resolve the dilemmas posed to public good and public purpose, created by technology’s unstoppable advances? Founded by former Secretary of Defense and Belfer Center Director Ash Carter and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Frank Doyle.
TRAINING AND INSPIRING A NEW GENERATION
TAPP Fellowship: The TAPP Fellowship provides private and public sector practitioners-- technologists, policymakers, investors, and civil servants - with the training and resources necessary to address timely tech and public purpose challenges.
Student research opportunities: TAPP works with a community of over 25 students across Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and more.
Technology and Public Purpose Fellowship
The TAPP Fellowship provides private and public sector practitioners--technologists, policymakers, investors, and civil servants-- with the training and resources necessary to address timely tech and public purpose challenges.
In-Residence Fellows are appointed for a 9-month term and are part of a cohort responsible for conducting research in a tech and public purpose field, such as improving digital media, managing the geopolitics of technology, designing ethical AI and biotech, improving the alignment of new forms of work with human fulfillment, and in general shaping technological progress to enhance public purposes.
TAPP 2022-23 In-Residence Fellowship Cohort
Luca Giani brings years of experience at the intersection of Business and Government, with a focus on Biotech Entrepreneurship, Finance and Management, and Diplomacy. Luca was on the founding team of a medical device startup focused on snoring and sleep apnea, and he later co-founded Innbiotec Pharma and Ilios Therapeutics – biotech companies that commercialize IP and novel molecules from universities and internal labs research, creating novel therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Sarah Hubbard is a product leader and strategist with a focus on building emerging technologies at scale. As a Senior Product Manager, Sarah has led various cross-functional teams building products in artificial intelligence and machine learning, mixed reality, Azure IoT, and new intelligent devices at both Apple and Microsoft. She has a passion for human-centered design, building communities, and guiding the ethical and equitable use of technology in society.
Conrad Kramer builds open source software for the betterment of society. Previously, he helped lead the development of the Shortcuts app, which Apple acquired in 2014 from a startup he co-founded called Workflow.
Helena Rong is an interdisciplinary designer and urbanist whose work lies at the intersection of digital technology, collective intelligence, and architecture and urbanism. Rong is currently pursuing a PhD in Urban Planning at Columbia University, where her research focuses on the role of digital technology in urban design and governance.
Student Research Assistants
TAPP works with a community of over 25 graduate and PhD students across Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard SEAS, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and more. If you're interested in working with our project next year, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technology Factsheets for Policymakers
The Technology Factsheet Series offers a brief overview of the technical aspects of salient technologies and their public purpose relevance for policymakers and their staff. As a collaboration between policy and technical experts, this series aims to provide the policy professionals with an accessible resource that brings its readers up to speed at a conversational level. Each brief is accompanied with a series of questions that policymakers should consider as they pursue future work on these evolving issues.
Interested in a factsheet topic not already included in our series? Suggest a topic here.
The following factsheets are listed in alphabetical order.
Digital Platform Governance: Proposals Index
The Digital Platform Governance: Proposals Index (DPGP Index) is a database of primarily U.S.-centric proposals aimed at mitigating the harms and risks created by social media platforms. The goal of the DPGP Index is to provide a tool for researchers across the public, academic, and private sectors to query and search a variety of proposed solutions from experts all over the world, all in one location.
Venture Capital Public Purpose Indicator for Investors
The Venture Capital and Public Purpose Indicator is a tool that helps venture capitalists and early-stage startups assess their company and technology for public purpose, specifically around negative consequences. The Indicator will help VCs evaluate their portfolios to ensure startups are planning ahead for business and public risks related to the environment, economic inequality, labor, privacy and more.
TAPP is committed to building and engaging a diverse and inclusive group of staff, faculty, fellows, and student researchers across our project's initiatives. We currently have a team of over 50 full-time and part-time members, and we are always looking to grow. If you're interested in joining the team or engaging with our community, please reach out.
Faculty & Staff
For general information and inquiries, please email email@example.com.
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