If you went to a hackathon this season, there’s a good chance you encountered the Ethical Tech Initiative from MLH with support from Omidyar Network’s Tech and Society Solutions Lab. At every event, we had a quick quiz hackers could take to think about some questions around ethics in technology. We had over 4500 hackers take the quiz, which got them a cool sticker to boot!
In addition to the quiz, hackers who submitted projects this season received a follow-up survey asking them to think about their projects in the context of ethics. It asked them to think of any unintended consequences their technology could have on society and the world at large. The best response would win something really awesome: A $10,000 prize to go to a conference of their choosing! We had a ton of high quality responses, and we slowly narrowed it down to 20 finalists. These finalists were teams who really did an A+ job of thinking in-depth about the consequences their technology could have. The responses were an absolute delight to read, and we hope that the teams found it a constructive and fun exercise.
But there could only be one winner.
After reading all of the responses, we eventually honed in on the one grand prize winner for the ethical tech scholarship. The essay was submitted by Keefer Rourke and his teammates, Alexander Parent and Salem Abuammer, who created their project Stegamsg at MHacks X. The team really showed an understanding of the current technology climate on a level that blew us away — they cited many real world examples and showed a deep understanding of the effect technology can have on society at large. Keefer and his team will be going to a conference of their choice on a $10,000 scholarship from MLH for their hard work.
You can read Keefer’s full response here!
We want to thank the thousands of hackers who took part in our initiative, and we hope it was an engaging thought exercise and learning experience. It’s been a delight to see the positive response we’ve gotten from this, and we’re glad that we’ve taken a step towards starting these conversations around the implications of technology. And finally, we’d like to give a huge thanks to Omidyar Network’s Tech and Society Solutions Lab for supporting this initiative and helping us to empower our hacker community. You can read their summary of the initiative here, where they dive more in depth around the challenge!