Why ethical tech?

I'm Chris Delatorre, a comms consultant working in science, tech, and philanthropy to advance digital rights and social equity through the use of ethical tech.

First, some context. I began my career in pharmacogenomics, working to personalize medicine on a genetic level. Later, as a comms strategist, I worked with lead attorneys on landmark cases, including Varnum v. Brien, which established marriage equality in Iowa in 2009 and marked the turning point that led to the US Supreme Court victory six years later.

At George Mason University, I managed editorial for a multimedia resource that earned a model program award from the US Department of Education. At WINGS, a global information broker, I launched a comms program for a network of thousands of organizations in 40 countries. At TechSoup, I helped to position the forum as a global resource and content partner for brands like Microsoft, Adobe, and Box. I've contributed to a range of publications, including Singularity Hub and Vogue, and worked with the UN to advance ethical tech worldwide.

Whether it's understanding how the health of migrating populations changes over time or how social ecosystems are created and maintained, I've always been fascinated with how people and things communicate, collaborate, and evolve.

This led me to Digital Impact, an initiative of the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS that advances the safe, ethical, and effective use of digital resources. There, I host Digital Impact 4Q4, a podcast that covers emerging trends, produce The COVID-19 Roundup, a weekly news digest for sector practitioners and policymakers, and co-host an event series on Race, Tech & Civil Society.

So, why the blog? That's easy. I'm frustrated with tech. I'm a digital native who remembers life before the mobile web, when this magical technology brought people together to expand our horizons and identities in exciting ways. Years later, the Internet, the "Great Democratizer," is a failure compared to what it could be. Now, democracy itself is at stake.

At some point, the promise of the internet fell prey to our baser instincts: hyper-tribalism, mass exploitation, unfettered narcissism. The nasty things that made us unequal offline found their way online. Then "big data" and surveillance made it worse. Hyper-commodification turned us on each other, where "success" in virtually every institution and industry is built on exploiting the weakest among us. Facebook is but one example of how ugly we can be when the long game is all about fame (Instagram culture and self worth) or financial gain (disinformation and democracy).

Still, there's so much we can do with digital. I believe in the goodness of people and the power of community, and in our ability to build technologies and societies that work for us, not against us (thanks, Mr. Roddenberry). It's why I gravitated toward the 9 Principles Sir Tim Berners-Lee put forward in 2019. And it's why I started this blog: to try and make sense of what's happening and connect some of that with my personal journey and work in data advocacy.

If you want to know more, subscribe here and connect with me on Twitter @urbanmolecule, where I share about cities, ethical tech, and the future of work. I'm also on LinkedIn. If your work aligns with mine and you want to collaborate, please send a well-thought message with your LinkedIn invitation. I look forward to hearing from you—and thanks for reading.