discussion / Community Base  / 12 April 2019

Debate: Tech giants moving into conservation in the future

The intersection of tech and conservation will see tech giants move into philanthropic environmental projects to mitigate their bad image, provide employees a feeling of worth and higher purpose, and birth a new market. Google Conservation. Thoughts?


Interesting question. Dropping some replies you're already getting from @samrye and @Alasdair on Twitter here to help move the discussion along:  

Thoughts... I have many.

Are you wondering about likelihood, or something else though?@Al2kA might have some musings...?

— Sam Rye (@sam__rye) April 12, 2019

It’s an interesting thing to think about the future players of conservation efforts. Data science will certainly be a driving force and who better to take a slice of the pie than tech monopolies?

— Spencer Dixon  (@spencerldixon) April 12, 2019

This has already started with Microsoft appointing @lucasjoppa as Chief Environmental Officer. Private sector will take bigger steps into conservation.

— Spencer Dixon  (@spencerldixon) April 12, 2019

There's definetly a rise in the big players exposing their tools for conservation use (Google's TensorFlow), but long-term in field commitment is their achilles heel. They still need NGOs & will predominently focus on big data that's eaiser to access (remote sensing vs in field)

— Alasdair Davies (@Al2kA) April 12, 2019

One concern I have is that just as tech companies tend to agglomerate into a monopoly, so too might thoughts regarding conservation.  We might end up with a mental monoculture.

For instance, the popular wisdom at this time seems to be that we must priotitise the microplastic pollution problem, although some experts feel climate change is the more pressing issue.  What can be tempting for a large company is to only concentrate on the thing they are best positioned to act upon.  Given their pulpit and ubiquity, this view can become canon in the popular mind.

On the other hand, it's been commented that conservation efforts are so fragmented, that a powerful leader can unify these disparate NGOs under a common framework.