Business forum aims to continue ‘tech-for-good revolution’

TechForGood attempts to push forward a “revolution concerning how we view the environment.”

The online Israel Impact Economy Forum attracted more than one thousand interested parties from around the world.  Chairman of Global Steering Group (GSG) Sir Ronald Cohen can be seen at the right corner of the first row. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The online Israel Impact Economy Forum attracted more than one thousand interested parties from around the world. Chairman of Global Steering Group (GSG) Sir Ronald Cohen can be seen at the right corner of the first row.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If states wish to regain the trust of their respective citizens in the post COVID-19 age, transparency must be embraced, a leading British businessman said at the launch of the Israel Impact Economy Forum on Monday.
Citing the Procter & Gamble shareholders rebellion, where investors voted against management policy to protest deforestation last month, Global Steering Group chairman Sir Ronald Cohen argued that norms are already changing.
Organized by GSG, Israeli Forum for Impact Economy and TechForGood, the online launch event allowed participants to listen to lectures and discussions held by Cohen and TechForGood founders and CEOs Nir Shimony and Omri Boral among others. The event was also supported by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation.
Working with, to name a few, the UN, Microsoft Israel and the Innovation Authority, TechForGood attempts to push forward what Cohen calls a “revolution concerning how we view the environment.”
Using such tools as AI and Big Data analytics, governments, investors and hi-tech developers are encouraged to work together to solve the complex problems humanity must face after several centuries of “profit-first capitalism,” Cohen said.
In his 2020 book Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change, Cohen describes how the term “impact investing” was coined 13 years ago to replace “social investing.” Both mean the same thing, using the tools of profit-oriented capitalism to encourage positive values such as “educating the young, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, creating employment and providing livelihoods for the poor.” But impact investing puts a unique focus on the tools created by the hi-tech revolution, which came before it.
When speaking with Eric Hazan, a senior partner at Mckinsey management consulting firm, Hazan gave the example of how today an AI can predict a heart attack five years before one takes place, but warned that technology is not a magic wand that can be used to solve everything.
Algorithms, for example, can be biased.
“We have to lay some sense on technology,” he explained, pointing to the new term GDP+. By using tech for good, he said, we can have growth (what traditional GDP measures) but also good health and social benefits, which is the plus part.
“Israel is a giant platform for tech-for-good,” Hazan said. Cohen evaluated that the sum total of investments tied to impact values now exceeds one trillion dollars.
The event included noted speakers from a variety of sectors such as VC funds, philanthropy and public equity. More than a thousand people from around the globe attended the event.