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.”
The arc of innovative progress has reached an inflection point. It is our responsibility to ensure it bends towards public good.
Technological change has brought immeasurable benefits to billions through improved health, productivity, and convenience. Yet as recent events have shown, unless we actively manage their risks to society, new technologies may also bring unforeseen destructive consequences.
Making technological change positive for all is the critical challenge of our time. We ourselves - not only the logic of discovery and market forces - must manage it. To create a future where technology serves humanity as a whole and where public purpose drives innovation, we need a new approach.
Founded by Belfer Center Director, MIT Innovation Fellow, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, the TAPP Project works to ensure that emerging technologies are developed and managed in ways that serve the overall public good.
Our Project Principles
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 public dilemmas require a mix of government regulation and tech-sector self-governance. The right mix can only result from strong and trusted linkages between the tech sector and government.
Ensuring a future where public purpose drives innovation requires the next generation of tech leaders to act; we must train and inspire them to implement sustainable solutions and carry the torch.
Event & Publication Highlights
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
Student Research Assistants
TAPP works with a community of over 25 students across Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and more. If you're interested in working with our project, applications are now open!
DEMOCRACY AND INTERNET GOVERNANCE INITIATIVE
In 2021, Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy launched the Democracy and Internet Governance Initiative (DIGI), a joint initiative to convene a range of stakeholders across government, business, and civil society to address the growing public concerns about digital platforms.
Over the next year, researchers for the Initiative will convene leading experts and stakeholders to evaluate policy and self-governance options for both short- and long-term action on high-priority issue areas. The team will then work to develop high-level recommendations for U.S. policymakers and private sector actors in three key areas: The Right to Safety: Countering Extremism and Incitement to Violence Online; The Right to Speak: Addressing Networked Harassment, Chilled Speech, and Diminished Press Freedom; The Right to Truth: Mitigating Misinformation and Disinformation at Scale.
Through public reports and briefings with policymakers, business leaders, and civil society organizations, the Initiative will highlight digital platform reform options, as well as offer expertise on legislative reform proposals and platform self-governance options.
BOSTON TECH HUB & FACULTY WORKING GROUP
The Boston Tech Hub Faculty Working Group (FWG), hosted 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, 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?
TECHNOLOGY FACTSHEETS FOR POLICYMAKERS
NOTE: To read more about our Tech Factsheets, please go to our Resources tab.
BUILDING A 21ST CENTURY CONGRESS
TAPP's Building a 21st Century Congressresearch initiative focuses on exploring two primary questions: How can United States policymakers better understand the next generation of emerging technologies and their societal implications? How can we make more educated decisions on the basic and applied research needed to solve the next generation of emerging threats?
Historically, venture capital firms have been the first investors in many of the world’s largest and most influential companies. The business model, culture, and values of global companies are often shaped in the early years of a company’s development, and venture capital firms as the first investors and board members play an important role in this process.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
For general information and inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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