Bayes Impact: When Tech Combines With Social Causes
A partnership between the tech industry and civic duty can set up a recipe for success, specifically when it comes to nonprofits using new technologies to gather data about the communities they serve, particularly underprivileged communities. As the 21st century continue to progress, governmental institutions and nonprofit organizations are finding ways to connect with the public through technological means so that the organizations can be aware of the current events and crises that affect these communities today.
Bayes Impact, a San Francisco-based tech nonprofit, helps public service organizations and institutions by developing open source software products that can leverage data for them. Its mission is to "build social services for the future" and that the software and algorithms used by Bayes Impact can create an impact for people to make a positive social impact in this world.
Although algorithms are generally used to detect fraud and target advertising, Bayes Impact uses algorithms to gather data regarding social problems that affect the communities for local governments and nonprofits. Bates Impact strives to create social change by gathering data that concerns subjects generally overlooked such as criminal justice, public education, and healthcare so that the cities will have a vast amount of information that's needed to establish projects which can improve people's lives for the better.
The tech nonprofit was founded on April 1, 2014 by former Eventbrite lead data scientist Paul Duan, Hitchhiker Labs founder Andrew Jiang, and former Thomvest Ventures VC Eric Liu, and shortly after its founding, it was backed Y Combinator and supported by Teespring with a $50,000 grant. The three cofounders later hired a group of 15-20 data scientists who've worked at renowned tech companies such as Google and Adwords, as well as prestigious universities from Duke to UC Berkeley, to work on data projects with organizations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
The partners who are currently cooperating with Bayes Impact include American backers such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and the aforementioned Y Combinator. One positive outcome of Bayes Impact having an office in Paris is also having support from French organizations such as Solidarités Nouvelles face au Chômage (New Solidarity Against Unemployment) and Foundation La France S'Engage (a government initiative supporting innovative projects).
The past couple of decades has seen technological advancement in the workforce, however, that advancement can be either be seen as beneficial or harmful to a person's employment or pursued opportunity. According to a report conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, 50 percent of current work activities are technically automatable, 6 out of 10 occupations have more than 30 percent of the work that is now automatable, and that due to new technologies being implemented in the workplace, there will only be 8-9 percent of people in new occupations by 2030.
When machinery gets to take a lot of the work from the real employees, it can be detrimental to not only the employees' professional career but also their mental health too. Seeing a mechanized invention that does 30-50 percent of the individual's work duties can let the individual to have worries about their employment and fears that the individual might get laid off.
An article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review showed a table that stated although 30 million-40 million jobs will be created because of rising incomes, elderly healthcare, tech spending, and multiple investments in various industries, there will also be another 16 million-54 million people that need to change their jobs. The reason for the occupational switch is that the advancement of automation technologies has lead to an increase of occupations such as artists, computer engineers, and physician assistants that require skills include client management and stakeholder communication.
The same article also mentioned that as a partner of Google.org, Google's work initiative, Bayes Impact is applying automative technology generate better job-search recommendations for job seekers who are well-suited for certain jobs based on the skills they currently have. This can save a lot of time for employers from having to teach prospective employees on how to work on the company's technology, as well as saving time for the employees who are working in positions they are already qualified for.
The leadership of Bayes Impact has proven that they are devoted to the goal of promoting social impact through the tech industry, with cofounder Eric Liu requesting public cooperation with Silicon Valley technologists and companies to protest against President Trump's 2017 executive order on immigration. In an article he wrote for TechCrunch, Liu presented a list of resources for readers on how they can help to take down the executive orders by informing them that they can choose to do volunteer work with their technical skills, collaborate with social impact incubators, and find local government roles that will lead to partnering with local communities and policy makers.
Another example of Bayes Impact's mission to combine technological innovation with important social causes was when it hosted a "Hack-athon" in 2014 for data scientists to create an extraordinary social-themed app. More than 100 data scientists, designers, and engineers attend the Hack-athon at the OpenDNS headquarters in San Francisco and the event was seen by cofounder Andrew Jiang as "a potential for data scientists to use their skills to improve nonprofit efforts that wasn't being realized."
The skills that the three cofounders of Bayes Impact learned in their past positions at Eventbrite, Hitchhiker Labs, and Thomvest Ventures have proven to be crucial for the information gathered on the problems that affect local communities throughout the United States (and also France through Bayes Impact's Parisian office). The work done by the tech nonprofit will also be beneficial for the improvement of social issues that affect Silicon Valley, known to be one of the country's most expensive regions to live in and where even engineers residing in some counties of Silicon Valley are considered "low-income".