The New Frontiers of Technology and Impact

Short thesis

How can technology acceleration be harnessed to tackle wicked problems, such as climate change, rapid urbanization, or feeding 10 billion people while regenerating natural ecosystems? This question is at the foundation of Good Tech Lab, which explores the frontiers of technology, entrepreneurship and finance, where pioneers tackle the world's biggest problems. In this talk, we will share some insights of our research on "impact tech" entrepreneurship, as well as the opportunities and challenges this movement is facing.


Society is at a crossroads, facing two “singularities”. This means we will see events where the depth of changes around us become exponential and thus our current way of thinking does not apply anymore — like the effects of gravity in a black hole.

First, is the intensifying system crisis : climate change, food and water insecurity, extreme economic, social and gender inequality. The UN made a framework to help us fight those big challenges, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals we need to tackle before 2030.

Second, is the technological acceleration driven by exponential technologies: synthetic biology, machine learning, robotics or blockchains. The WEF states that we are living the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. This brings many promises, but also grand challenges: what is the future of work when automation is everywhere? How do we ensure that the benefits reaped are fairly distributed across society? Will our consumption of natural resources be exponential too, or will circular economy principles prevail? How do we guarantee the safety of these technologies?

The question is: can we harness this second singularity, to prevent the first one, and regenerate society and the planet? What are the signs of hope, and the challenges that lie ahead?

Answering these questions is the work of the Good Tech Lab, which will be presented by Manuella Cunha Brito in this session.