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Big data and AI give companies incredible power to grow their business and improve their profits, but the same techniques can also be used to promote social good. One of the people who does more than most to promote technology for society is Lauren Woodman, CEO of Datakind and a datanami Person to watch for 2022.

Data type was founded over a decade ago to help nonprofits and social change groups get the most out of their data. Woodman joined the group from New York last year and was kind enough to spend time with Datanami to discuss the work of the organization, the state of big data for good programs and his role in it. .

Datanami: We have more data than ever before, but most of it is operated by for-profit companies. What are the responsibilities of a society to ensure that the fruits of technological progress come fairly?

Woodman: We’ve seen the power of data science and AI dramatically transform businesses and industries. Too many mission-driven organizations still don’t have access to the funding, talent, skills, or training to use data science and AI to benefit the important work they do. In 2022, I look forward to partnering with more companies, foundations, and individuals to build a world where everyone fighting on the front lines of social change can use data science and AI to accelerate the pace of their impact.

Do you think our government institutions are making the necessary investments to be able to use big data technology for the greater public good? Or perhaps these investments should be made by third-party organizations, such as nonprofits and NGOs?

What single organization has the technological capacity to create innovative solutions, which will prioritize efficient over cost-effective solutions, which can create transparent and safe solutions, and over which communities have control? It’s crucial that multi-stakeholder partnerships come together to provide those necessary components of technology talent, issue expertise, local involvement, and funding that don’t otherwise work together. At DataKind, we believe in putting data science and AI in the hands of human rights-respecting NGOs and governments, as these are the most values-aligned institutions we know of. . Some multi-stakeholder partnerships might meet these values-aligned and ethical work criteria.

What do you hope to see from the big data community in the coming year?

Similarly to above, thoughtfully constructed partnerships, where each member contributes their resources and skills in the service of a common effort, tend to be the most successful. And just as each project is unique, so is each collaboration. Over the coming year, I look forward to connecting with old and new partners to discuss the most effective way to direct affordable technical capacity to the social sector. Whether it’s a foundation wanting to find a new way to tackle a stubborn problem or a company developing its own Data Science and AI for Good strategy, DataKind’s decade doing this work (we celebrating our 10th anniversary this year!) means we bring an unparalleled depth of experience to any partnership.

Outside of the professional sphere, what can you share about yourself that your colleagues might be surprised to learn? Unique hobbies or stories?

Oh, I wish I was more interesting, but most of all I like to try something new. Over the years, it’s been everything from triathlons to baking bread to drumming. I end up being pretty mediocre in most of them, but I like the challenge of something new. This year, I made a commitment to improve my golf game, a hobby I learned during the pandemic, and which I am decidedly very bad at.

You can read the rest of the People to Watch 2022 interviews here.