Pathways Through the Portal: Field Scan of Emerging Technologies


New America

New America

December 9, 2020
11:30am — 12:30pm ET

In this time of multiple crises, the world is deep in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil, and a historic uprising for Black liberation. It is a time of reckoning. Yet, as author Arundhati Roy writes, this time may also be seen as a portal, a "gateway between one world and the next."

Emerging technologies will clearly be important to our passage through this portal. Can we develop new tools that will allow us to live with a degree of safety from the virus? Can we ensure that the technologies we develop do not unintentionally reinforce anti-Blackness and other forms of structural inequality? Which of many potential futures do we want to build together?

For the last year, a team of researchers affiliated with Civic Hall and Design Justice Project has worked to answer these questions, exploring the potential for emerging technologies (EmTech, for short) to serve the public interest. This new report, Pathways Through the Portal: A Field Scan of Emerging Technologies in the Public Interest offers cause for caution and for optimism.


Berhan Taye, @btayeg

Micah Sifry, @Mlsif
Co-founder of Civic Hall

Sasha Costanza-Chock, @Schock
Faculty Associate, Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Matt Stempeck, @mstemTechnologist in Residence, Cornell Tech

Diana Nucera, @mothercyborgFounder & Former director of the Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP)

Alberto Rodriguez, @Arodalv (moderator)
Senior Program Manager, New Practice Lab & PIT University Network at New America

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