In this #EndofAid interview, computer scientist and researcher Dr Kentaro Toyama draws on his uniquely broad view across social development, humanitarian action and the role of technology, describing how poorly they dovetail together in a sector that largely festishizes innovation.
As an award-winning computer scientist, Kentaro Toyama set up Microsoft Research India in the early 2000s, with the goal of exploring how novel electronic and communication technologies could offer solutions to some of the country’s most persistent social problems. After ten years of learning, his conclusions must have been a bit bewildering to his Microsoft chiefs: No technology, however innovative, generates social change on its own; and technology is no more than a magnifier of existing human intent and capacities.
Today, Kentaro is W.K. Kellogg Associate Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan, a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, and the author of an intriguing 2015 book entitled Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology.
Some of the resources Kentaro mentions during the interview are listed below:
- Dr Toyama’s personal website
- 2015 book: Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology
- Kentaro on Twitter