CEGA was proud to partner with the Marconi Society and the Haas School of Business Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI) on the Decade of Digital Inclusion, a two day symposium to convene leading visionaries in technology, business, policy, and digital inclusion to help build pathways to digital equity by 2030. Through timely panel discussions and keynotes featuring leading visionaries, this event generated concrete solutions to the complex issue of digital inequality. The virtual symposium took place on November 2 and 3, 2022.
The Marconi Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing digitally equitable communities by empowering change agents across sectors, and the Institute for Business and Social Impact aims to design and test innovative, impactful, and evidence-based solutions to social and environmental challenges.
In addition to a lively virtual symposium, the Marconi Society honored 2022 Marconi Fellow Siavash Alamouti, a serial entrepreneur and wireless innovator, at an in-person formal awards gala. The gala was held in the Pauley Ballroom on the University of California, Berkeley campus, on November 3, 2022.
We were honored to feature 30+ visionaries from business, technology, policy, academia, and digital inclusion. By breaking down the silos between these fields, the Marconi Society encourages a collaborative approach we believe is necessary to create digital equity. In each session, we heard from the change makers who are shaping our connected future.
8:00 – 8:40 a.m. PT | Creating an Economy that Works for Everyone
Marconi Society Chair, Vint Cerf, opened our conference with a fireside chat with Shamina Singh, Founder & President of the Center for Inclusive Growth, the philanthropic hub of Mastercard.
In our globally connected world, an inclusive and sustainable digital economy is a cornerstone for peace, prosperity, and progress. A global economy in which all are included must be built upon digital equity, trusted technology, and continuous innovation. Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth works to achieve this by empowering small to medium-sized businesses, supporting female entrepreneurs, tackling racial inequities, and using data-driven insights to build connected communities and deliver positive social impact. Ms. Singh will share her vision for inclusive growth and the transformational path we need to take to achieve truly shared prosperity.
8:45 – 9:45 a.m. PT | An Internet Built for Personal Safety and Security: Who is Responsible and How Do We Do It?
Amy VanDeVelde, Sheri Osborn, Debora Plunkett, Karen Renaud, Yvette Renteria, Roy Wan
As more and more aspects of our lives go online, responsible technologists, policymakers, and digital inclusion advocates must create simple, effective, and user-friendly ways to keep consumers safe on the network. Issues in this area include control over personal content and data, device accessibility, reducing bias in machine learning and AI algorithms, user interface, usability innovations, and ways to combat the rise of disinformation.
9:50 – 10:50 a.m. PT | How Do We Define Broadband?
Vint Cerf, Christophe Diot, Mei Lin Fung, Matthew R. Rantanen
As governments around the world set goals for broadband access, how do we define broadband? Without clear guidelines defining speed, quality, and what “service” means, policymakers cannot effectively oversee Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and ensure communities are being served appropriately.
With billions of dollars in federal funding at stake, we need a comprehensive and clear definition of broadband service – one that accounts for the key role Internet access plays in daily life. This panel discussed the technical details and policy ramifications of defining broadband.
10:55 – 11:55 a.m. PT | Digital Equity: How Will We Know When We’ve Arrived?
Elizabeth M. Belding, Mark Buell, Nicole Franklin, Roberto Gallardo
What does it mean to reduce the digital divide and alleviate the issues associated with digital inequity? How will we know that progress is being made? What measurement infrastructure needs to be in place to successfully measure and map the change in broadband coverage, capacity, quality, and cost over time to evaluate progress? How could a community detect reversions to inequitable situations?
The Marconi Society’s working group on Digital Equity Assessment, Measurement, and Mapping has been working on these questions. Members of the working group shared their insights and current thinking during this panel discussion.
12:00 p.m – 1:00 p.m. PT | Funding Broadband for All: From Sporadic to Sustainable
Kathryn de Wit, Mai-Ling Garcia, Karen Mossberger
Funding to support digital equity has long been inconsistent, undependable, and difficult to obtain, making it hard for organizations to continue providing much needed community services sustainably. We are in a moment in the U.S. with unprecedented funding going to digital equity and inclusion programming. It is highly unlikely this level of investment, or even lower levels of investment from these federal sources, will be available again and these funding levels may never be seen in other countries.
In order for communities to continue supporting residents to connect and use the Internet in all the ways it can benefit them, digital equity must be reframed within a more dependable funding and business framework. Digital inclusion as a social service delivery model, with a focus on how states and counties can mitigate the rising costs of delivering social services through partnerships and coordination with the community, is one way to provide superior service and cost savings that can permanently fund digital inclusion programs and strategies.
1:05 – 1:50 p.m. PT | Creating the Equity-Focused Workforce of the Future
Michell Morton, Dr. Traci Morris, Dr. Fallon Wilson
Solving complex problems in our cross-functional world calls for students and workforces with interdisciplinary skills. This is particularly true in the quest for digital equity, which relies on technologists to create the possible, policymakers to develop innovative solutions to impactful and accessible funding, and digital inclusion advocates to ensure that solutions can be adopted and used by the community. Education between these groups is siloed today, feeding into a fragmented workforce and problem-solving infrastructure. The educational pipeline for the future of digital equity will create passionate, cross-disciplinary experts.
This panel discussed recommendations to produce a workforce skilled in the different aspects of digital equity and in bridging the conversation between disparate groups.
1:50 – 2:05 p.m. PT | Keynote: Ensuring Digital Equity in our $42B Infrastructure Spend
Angela Thi Bennett
8:00-9:10 a.m. PT | Opening Keynote Panel: Bringing Digital Equity into Tomorrow’s Technology
Sir David Payne, Siavash Alamouti, Martin Cooper, Taher Elgamal, Henry Samuel, Aakanksha Chowdhery
Marconi Fellow Sir David Payne opened day two of our conference with a keynote panel with Marconi Fellows and Young Scholars.
From 6G networks to quantum security to blockchain and AI, the technical breakthroughs in information and communications technology that are in labs today must be built with digital equity in mind. Our Marconi Fellows and Young Scholars, luminaries in their fields, will discuss the potential reach and impact of some of our newest innovations and the considerations that technologists should keep top of mind. From their vantage point as the people who played critical roles in creating the Internet, the wireless industry, the security that underpins billions of online transactions and so much more, the panelists will share their unique perspectives on technology for digital equity.
9:15 – 10:15 a.m. PT | Can the FinTech Revolution be a True Equalizer?
Siavash Alamouti, Emily Aiken, Kami Dar, Laura Fontana
The digital economy has led to the proliferation of new technologies, data sources, and ideas that are driving a fintech revolution. Fintech products are rapidly revolutionizing the global financial ecosystem, with the potential to reach and benefit vulnerable and traditionally excluded populations. A mix of blockchain, machine learning, mobile banking, satellite imagery, and more are being used to deliver aid, facilitate trade, or enable faster, cheaper remittances. The reach and impact of fintech solutions is escalating quickly as the pandemic, natural disasters, and geopolitical crises make getting money to vulnerable communities – including displaced and refugee populations – more critical than ever.
10:20 – 11:20 a.m. PT | The (Big) Data Economy: Inclusion and Fairness
Danielle Davis, Jordana Barton-García, Sarah E. Chasins, Laura Chioda, Tiffany Deng
Digital transformation, automation, and globalization have sparked radical shifts in societies, giving rise to a “new economy” driven by big data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). The expansion of the digital economy has placed big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science at the center of the debate about the future of digital inclusion. In particular, internet access is poised to reach hundreds of millions of new individuals over the next decade, bringing services and opportunities to historically excluded populations.
Big Data offers great potential for data-driven decision making to inform individual, business, and government decisions, but science will be crucial to ensure transparency, equity, and trust. However, as algorithmic decision making increasingly affects everyday life, the benefits must be weighed against the potential to codify and amplify existing biases. The collection and usage of vast amounts of personal data to improve decision making must be weighed against the potential for fraud or the invasion of privacy. This raises the question: how can we properly harness data and their value “to maximize” individuals’ and societies’ welfare?
11:25 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. PT | Is the Internet Business Model Broken? Balancing User Needs with Business Interests
Lili Gangas, Siavash Alamouti, Francine Berman, Dawn Song, Ian Veidenheimer, Madison Obiedo
Today’s “free” Internet applications are built on a model of monetizing individuals’ data to drive engagement. The technique of driving engagement by creating anger or fear is well-documented and leads to disinformation and online behaviors that can threaten individuals and groups. Making data access and applications much more affordable by changing the current paradigm around user data and information calls for community engagement and involvement to create win/win scenarios that drive desired outcomes in exchange for equity and control over data. This session discussed the different strategies for creating consumer-oriented business models in emerging and developed countries, as well as corporate motivations for changing the paradigm.
12:30 – 12:50 p.m. PT | Closing Keynote: We Are Here: The Convergence of Consciousness and Technology
We are in a unique moment – a moment in which we have the technology to create a connected world that benefits everyone and the collective understanding that progress can only happen if we consciously allow all voices to contribute. Our digital revolution will be only as successful as our ability to democratize storytelling and information creation. This is our opportunity to inject consciousness into our digital environment and to incent good behavior that lifts all of us up. Mehcad Brooks will share his insights and perspectives about the world we are poised to create and the new way of thinking that will get us there.
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