In the technology sector, 2021 was a year of profit and orientation.
Thanks in part to the epidemic and the digitization of our lives, all the big technology companies have grown. Facebook changed its name to Meta, Jeff Bezos went into space, Jack Dorsey left Twitter and Silicon Valley fell for crypto.
Every December, a year after I partially covered technology scandals and shortcomings, I use a few technology projects that will improve the world throughout the year. My standards are somewhat loose and arbitrary, but I am looking for beginners who use technology for big social problems and do not pay much attention to tech press, just like artificial intelligence. Fighting wildfires or feeding programs for the needy.
Especially at a time when many technology leaders seem to be more interested in building a new, more imaginative world than in improving the world in which we live, it is appropriate to commend technologists who are working to solve some of our biggest problems.
So here’s the thing: This year’s Good Tech Awards are here.
To DeepMind, to break the protein problem (and publish the work)
One of the most exciting AI discoveries of the year was in July, when DeepMind – Google-owned Artificial Intelligence Company – published information and code from its amazing Alpha Fold project.
This project, which uses AI to predict protein structures, solves the problem that has plagued scientists for decades and is said to be one of the greatest scientific discoveries made by scientists. And by publishing the data for free, Alpha Fold has sparked outrage among researchers, some of whom are already using it to develop new drugs and better understand proteins in viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.
Google’s overall AI efforts are fraught with controversy and misinformation, but Alpha Fold seems to be making good use of the company’s vast knowledge and resources.
Up Foods, Mosa Meat and Wildlife, pushing laboratory-grown meat to the core
People like to eat meat. But much of the world’s meat-producing industry is a moral and environmental threat, and plant-based substitutes have not been widely adopted by meat-eaters. Therefore, the importance of trained meat – not from slaughtered animals – but from the cells in the laboratory – could be a technological response to global meat addiction.
Despite more than a decade of research and development, meat is still very expensive and difficult to produce. But that may change soon, thanks to the efforts of dozens of beginners, including Upside Foods, Mosa Meat and Wildtype.
Upside Foods, formerly known as Memphis Mets, has opened a 53,000-square-foot factory in California this year and announced plans to grow cells without the use of animal parts.
The Dutch meat market, Mossa Meat, has made great strides in technology, including the production of 98% cheaper animal fat.
And Wildlife, the San Francisco startup has released a new cell-based salmon product that is producing sweat-based seafood this year, which has received positive reviews from initial experiments, although it has not yet been approved by the FDA.
For RCVDV and Amilio, to bring better technology to the criminal justice system
Prisons are not known as inventions. But this year, two technology projects have tried to make our criminal justice system more humane.
Recidiviz is a non-profit technology startup that builds information tools for open access to criminal justice reform. It began with Clement Jacobie, a former Google employee who provided the opportunity to provide information about the prison system and to inform prison officials, lawmakers, activists and researchers. The weapons are being used in seven states, including North Dakota, and have helped prison officials assess the risk of the Covd-19 pandemic and identify those who are eligible for early release.
Amelio, founded by two Yale students and supported by technologists such as Jack Dorsey and Eric Schmidt, is trying to thwart a lucrative start-up relationship with a well-known entertainment industry that charges inmates and loved ones over phone and video calls. This year, it plans to add more states next year and releases a free video calling service in Iowa and Colorado prisons.
To use the 3-D print to solve the housing problem to the ICON and Mighty buildings
When I first heard about the experimental efforts of 3-D printing houses a few years ago, I rejected them as something new. But since then 3D printing technology has evolved over time, and is now being used to build real homes in the United States and abroad.
3D printing houses have many advantages: printing is much cheaper and faster than traditional construction (houses can be 3D printed in 24 hours) and can be made using domestic materials in parts of the world where concrete is difficult to come by. as if.
Texas-based ICON Construction Technology 3-D has so far published more than two dozen structures. His technology was used to print homes in rural Mexico this year, and the company will be based next year in Austin, Texas. He plans to build fully 3D printing houses.
Powerful buildings based in Auckland, California are taking a slightly different approach. It sells pre-fabricated furniture consisting of factory-made 3D printed panels on site. The houses are equipped with solar panels and have energy-saving features and recently signed a 3-D printing contract for 15 homes in a subdivision in Rancho Miraj, California.
It must be said that our national housing crisis is not primarily a technology problem. Bad zoning and tax laws, NIMBY protection and other factors have played a role in making housing uncomfortable for many. But it is comforting to know that if local and regional governments are cooperating and starting to build more houses, time will tell, 3-D will help speed up the process.
Assistance to clean up social media for Francis Hawgen and the Institute of Integrity
According to Francis Howgen, a former Facebook product manager at the Wall Street Journal, the main source of blockbuster “Facebook files”, a few tech stories have made a big impact this year. Ms. Hawgen expanded our common knowledge of Facebook’s internal workings by releasing thousands of Facebook insights and forum documentation, and the congressional testimony was a testament to the accountability of technology.
Shortly after Ms. Hawgen’s release, two former members of the Facebook Integrity team, Jeff Allen and Sahar Masachi, launched a non-profit organization dedicated to helping social media companies address the thorny issues of trust, security and forum management. Their advertisement received less attention than Mrs. Hawgen, but it is part of a similar effort to educate all legislators, technologists, and the public on how to keep our social media ecosystem healthy.
And a tribute to McKenzie Scott as the world’s fastest philanthropist
Scott, who divorced Jeff Bezos in 2019, is not a technology founder. But Amazon is giving away its wealth – estimated at more than $ 50 billion – to other tech giants as fast as Penny-Pincher.
A.D. In 2021 alone, she donated more than $ 6 billion to a number of charities, schools, and social programs, a remarkable feat for an individual working with a small group of consultants. (The Gates Foundation has provided $ 5.8 billion in direct funding for the balance sheet in 2020.)
And unlike other donors who put their names on buildings and museum wings, Ms. Scott announced her gifts in a series of quiet blog posts. A.D. Let’s hope that by 2022 many tech moguls will follow her lead.