Today, those creating new technologies wield tremendous power. The technologies they create influence everything from which news stories billions of people read to what personal data companies collect. While many of these technologies have facilitated new forms of connection and creativity, the benefits and harms of these technologies have not been distributed equally. Increased digital surveillance, automated discrimination, and recommendation systems that amplify misinformation are a few examples of how existing inequities become embedded within and amplified by computing technologies and harm the most vulnerable populations.
Through the Responsible Computing Challenge, Omidyar Network, Mozilla, Schmidt Futures, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Mellon Foundation, and USAID are educating a new wave of graduating technologists. These technologists will bring holistic thinking to the design of new technologies, fueling an industry-wide culture shift. The Challenge supports the conceptualization, development, and piloting of curricula that empowers students to think about the social and political context of computing. The Challenge will unearth and spark innovative coursework that will not only be implemented at the participating home institutions, but also be scaled to additional colleges and universities around the globe.
Between 2018 and 2021, we awarded $3.5 million in prizes to curricula embedding ethics into undergraduate computer science education in the United States. Starting in 2022, the Challenge is expanding globally to leading universities in Kenya and India, awarding up to $1.2 million to institutions to develop course materials that integrate social, political, and technical perspectives in introductory computing courses. This expansion speaks to the global nature of computing and the ethical dilemmas and geographic inequities that often result from a narrow focus on technology in the U.S. and Europe. This new curriculum will empower undergraduate students to draw on an interdisciplinary toolkit to recognize and address systemic inequities and power asymmetries embedded in computational systems. Using these skills, graduating technologists will drive a culture shift in the tech industry and build a healthier internet locally and globally.
The awardees of the Responsible Computing Challenge collaborated across disciplines, redesigned syllabus, incorporated creative pedagogy, mobilized students and faculty, and exchanged ideas with each other to integrate responsibility and ethics into computing curricula.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for- profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. You can learn more here: www.omidyar.com. The Tech and Society Solutions Lab co-creates and invests in solutions that aim to mitigate, prevent and correct the unintended consequences of technology–and maximize positive impact.
The nonprofit Mozilla Foundation believes the internet must always remain a global public resource that is open and accessible to all. Our work is guided by the Mozilla Manifesto.
The direct work of the Mozilla Foundation focuses on fueling the movement for a healthy internet. We do this by supporting a diverse group of fellows working on key internet issues, connecting open internet leaders at events like MozFest, publishing critical research in the Internet Health Report, and rallying citizens around advocacy issues that connect the wellbeing of the internet directly to everyday life.
About Schmidt Futures
Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that seeks to improve societal outcomes through the thoughtful development of emerging science and technologies that can benefit humanity. As a venture facility for public benefit, they invest risk capital in the most promising ideas and exceptional people across disciplines. Learn more at schmidtfutures.com.
About Craig Newmark Philanthropies
Craig Newmark Philanthropies was created by craigslist founder Craig Newmark to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. The organization works to advance people and grassroots organizations that are getting stuff done in areas that include trustworthy journalism, voter protection, gender diversity in technology, and veterans and military families. For more information, please visit: CraigNewmarkPhilanthropies.org.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. For more information, please visit: usaid.gov.
About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Mellon Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and they believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there. Through their grants, they seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. For more information, please visit: mellon.org.