The PeaceTech Industry is Here

PeaceTech Lab

By Sheldon Himelfarb

Nearly everyday, startup companies and nonprofits alike from India to Iraq, the U.S. to Ukraine, South Africa to Sweden are tackling the drivers of violent conflict using tech, media, and data in new and exciting ways. Whether it’s the brilliant website “I Paid a Bribe.com”, which is being used in over 60 countries to expose corruption, or Annona, the startup company in our PeaceTech Accelerator that is tackling food security with software to connect small farmers in Africa with global buyers.

Everyday the nascent peacetech industry is delivering ever more solutions to the world’s thorniest and violence producing problems. But you wouldn’t know it if you were tracking the news recently.

The din of unintended negative consequences of tech is drowning out this exciting reality. Hate speech, terrorist recruitment, fake news, privacy breaches, and other challenges to peaceful democratic societies dominate the narrative, creating a popular perception of today’s tech as irresponsible and untrustworthy, indeed the very enemy of the people.

But here’s the real story. Reality aligns with both this New York Times article about hate speech on Facebook inciting violence in Sri Lanka and this CNN article about Kenyans using innovative tech to counter election fraud and violence. 

Tech is a tool – used for good and evil. It is incumbent on us, as everyday users of peacetech like cell phones and the Internet, to amplify its power to save lives. To put the right tools in the right hands to build peaceful communities.

This is the everyday work of PeaceTech Lab and so many others who will come together on May 8 and 9 in Washington DC for “Powering PeaceTech” a summit to celebrate and fuel this growing movement. Join us.