Silicon Valley Community Foundation - Innovation Conference

Day 1 Session Notes - October 9, 2016

// These are rough and partial notes. Please excuse shorthand and typos. 

Dr Emmett Carson - opening

  • First-ever, people here from all around the world
  • We’re representing different sectors of philanthropy - diversity of viewpoints
  • Nonprofits are behind on technology
  • A challenge to philanthropists to fund tech projects
  • Release of “Lotto Boxes” game with Becker College to teach children about income inequality

Google VR Expeditions - on-stage demo

  • Being demoed with kids in classrooms around the world 
  • Jackie Robinson story, VR visualization 
  • VR is early early stages, like 80s mobile phone

Paul Sacco, Long Now Foundation - plenary

  • Exponential technology
  • Education is the most critical crisis on this planet
  • “Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe” - requote
  • Autonomous cars
  • DNA sequencing forecast to cost 2 cents
  • “Darker exponentials”
  • Not about inflection points, it’s about “critical points”
  • We need philanthropy to think longer term than Silicon Valley innovators who are thinking on 3-5 year timeframes because they need to pay back their investors 
  • Social inequality
  • Closing: “Always remember to plant a couple acorns, to grow a couple trees that you’ll never sit under”
  • Q&A - City states will be important aspect of the future. If Bay Area was independent, would be 18th largest world economy. 

The gig economy and impact on social sector - session

  • What do we mean by gig economy?
  • 35% outside of work temp arrangement - Upwork
  • # of people on digital labor platforms still just .5% 
  • JP Morgan Chase stat, 46X growth in 3 years
  • It’s having outsized impact on culture, and shaping our relationships with our phones
  • Now we have real data, we can track it, gonna keep growing
  • Jobs but no employers, kinda like adjunct professors. 
  • Gig economy making work happening in shadows very visible. 
  • Who owns the data? The most important question facing the economy right now
  • Evolution from business skills to leadership to “systemic changer” for social justice - a journey over the last year. 
  • We need technologies to get more into government, because it’s just not moving fast enough. Government is slow. We need to move faster. More partnerships. Universal safety nets.
  • “Beyond CSR, charities, volunteering, and values driven, we need businesses to be systemic changers”
  • It’s a fundamental social justice issue that people have access to this. Which means smart phones and broadband needs to be fundamental right. Who really understands this data and these algos? She asks the audience. (Only a couple hands in the audience go up.) These technologies control who’s matched to the jobs.
  • “Weapons of math destruction” book
  • “We have no rights to interrogate the platforms”
  • Platform cooperatives plug
  • “I do think platform cooperatives is a movement” 
  • Benefits system is based on employers, gig economy based on jobs without employers
  • What’s the holistic / humanistic impact to communities?
  • Not just coding in pure efficiencies and pure profits - which the companies are really good at - you can encode dignity, privacy, transparency
  • “Fair case labs”
  • Large and growing older population + largest generation (millennials) now having kids =  huge increase in need for care services
  • Companies like care.com making relationships visible in new ways - they provided data about our workforce in ways that we never could because they’ve been in the shadows
  • We told funders - 40% tried and true, 60% resources should be deployed to what we don’t know, experimentation and innovation. Open Society Foundation gave $1m to just launch, no strings attached. That fundamentally changed everything at the lab. 
  • Data helps with impact reporting, to help with accountability
  • Spent a lot of time pitching to get $2.5m. Really hard to raise $ in nonprofits, raised >$200 million at Care. We need philanthropy to support entrepreneurs better. Something’s not working in the system. Not sure what the answer is, but something’s not working, need to change to make faster fundraising. 
  • Question - if you had $100m, what would you do?
  • Deploy towards really flexible funding to strengthen the worker voice in this new economy
  • Worker training, fellowships for other entrepreneurs and systemic changers to solve other care issues, because the need is so broad
  • Half to rewrite the web and decentralize it, and the other half on policy - figuring out what needs changed in telecommunications act and fraud abuse act etc that are holding us back, we don’t have Bill of Rights in digital/Internet, we need it
  • Goodworkcode.org - 8 principles we need for on-demand economy
  • We found bringing companies together is really effective way to further this conversation
  • Q - examples of scaled co-ops? (panel is silent)
  • The challenge is fundraising. VC, IPO etc is fastest way
  • There’s early stage stuff emerging, a VC in EU only doing co-ops


Innovation Lab - exhibits

  • VR demos by RYOT (now HuffPo) - intro reel, scenes from Aleppo, story being a girl - 3 million people a year die from indoor heating / cooking, swimming with dolphins - call to action to keep them in the wild rather than tanks/parks
  • Affordable prosthetics to help disabled, new advancements
  • iPad Lotto game about income inequality, in partnership with Becker college