Dokutech speaker line-up continues with Toyama, a computer scientist and an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. He worked on cutting-edge projects including early location-based and computer vision technologies during his time at Microsoft Research.
Today he has a much different mindset, making the case that technology and the Internet are actually not the answer. From an interview for GeekWire in July to live presence in August for Dokutech in Prizren, that’s Kentaro Toyama, who spent seven years at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, and in Cambridge working on computer vision, multimedia and geographic information systems, taking a sabbatical in 2002 to teach mathematics at Ghanas Ashesi University.
No technology can cause social change on its own
Toyamaa’s research reminds us that there are few one-size-fits-all solutions. If technology is going to improve the lives of the world’s poorest, it must be grounded in a deep understanding of human behavior and an appreciation for cultural differences. states Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on Toyamas book called Geek Heresy
In 2004, Kentaro Toyama, an award-winning computer scientist, moved to India to start a new research group at Microsoft. Its mission: to explore novel technological solutions to the world’s persistent social problems.
Together with his team, he invented electronic devices for under-resourced urban schools and developed digital platforms for remote agrarian communities. But after a decade of designing technologies for humanitarian causes, Toyama concluded that no technology, however dazzling, could cause social change on its own.
Toyama’s warning resounds: Don’t believe the hype! Technology is never the main driver of social progress. Get down to Prizren this weekend for more from Toyama.