"The Possibilities are Endless": Looking Back on the Good Tech Summit

Social Good - Good Tech Summit

Over my more than 14 years of public service, advancements in technology—and social media specifically—have made it easier to engage with constituents and hear their opinions.” That’s what Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) posted on his Facebook page after his featured “fireside chat” at our inaugural Good Tech Summit.

Social Good - Castro & Greta

The Good Tech Summit gathered hundreds of leaders and industry titans in tech, advocacy, and government to celebrate the impact that technology has on our capacity to achieve social good. Featured conversations included:

  • The digital giants—Facebook and Google—showed how social media sites are fueling movements of change, and the potential they have to do more.
  • Tech leaders talked about how technology has disrupted consumer tech, driving the need to make everything smarter—including cars, computers, and televisions.  
  • Content creators demonstrated how using 360 video, virtual reality, and augmented reality plucks untold stories out of obscurity and into the hearts and minds of people across the globe.
  • Leaders in business discussed how technology is opening new doors for corporate social responsibility and government affairs—revolutionizing socially conscious business practices.
  • Civic leaders shared stories of how smart cities empower government officials to build communities that care for the needs of every single citizen.

Amidst all of these conversations, our keynote speaker, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, brought it all together when he said, “We need to make things more human.

Social Good - Steve Wozniak

Good Tech: An Enabler for Compassion and Good

The Good Tech Summit presented a positive vision for the future—a future where humans and technology work together to make our world a better place. From the moment our first speaker took the stage to our after-party where we danced the night away with GoGoGadjet and DJDimmy, hundreds of innovators joined us to celebrate and enjoy all the new possibilities brought on by technology.

“It’s pretty cool to be with a group of people that see technology as an enabler for compassion and good,” said Martin O’Malley, former Maryland Governor, 2016 presidential candidate, and Good Tech Summit speaker. “People from a lot of different organizations, companies, and nonprofits—all of them gathered around this powerful idea that technology can actually be something that brings us together, rather than drives us apart.”

“Hundreds of professionals filling these very spaces [media and technology] were able to relax, reflect and dance with their peers,” said an article posted on Medium after the summit. “The positive human element behind such progress [in tech] negates potential dangers.”

Our goal was for attendees to walk away informed, inspired, and with a positive outlook on technology, civic engagement, and the future. We wanted to show that tech is something to be celebrated, not feared. To be embraced, not handled with kid gloves. To be fully integrated into our lives, not compartmentalized.

The Good Tech Summit showed that technology shouldn’t be viewed as “the other,” but for what it truly is: fully and unequivocally human.

Tech + social good = endless possibilities

Not only did the Good Tech Summit cast a positive vision for the future, it also showed what’s possible as technology advances. That’s why every panel, talk, product demo, and fireside chat at the summit told part of a story—the story of how technology and social good can become fully merged.

“I’m thrilled that the Good Tech Summit exists,” said Eliana Murillo, Google’s Head of Multicultural Marketing and Good Tech Summit speaker. “There’s so much conversation about innovation, and it’s very important to make sure that we’re keeping top of mind the social impact that could happen through innovation, and how we can leverage that.”

We pointed out at the summit that technology is neither good nor bad. It becomes what you make it. The crucial challenge we have to overcome is to ensure that our use of technology keeps up with its advancements. Erin Schrode, a Good Tech Summit attendee, said on Twitter, “Technology is merely a tool, albeit a mighty powerful one; we have the power and must use it for right reasons.”

What we saw at the Good Tech Summit was just the beginning. Technology has been advancing more rapidly over the past few decades, and we have no idea what could be around the corner. Our hope is that as technology advances, our capacity for social good advances with it, so that one day, we’ll live in a future where the world of technology and the world of social good are indistinguishable from each other.

Or, in Murillo’s words, “When we bring those two worlds together, the possibilities are endless.”

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