Is Technology a Force for Good?

“Tech for Good”

That was the theme of the True North conference held last week in Waterloo Region.

For many of us, the life changing aspects of technology might only extend as far as the smartphone we carry everywhere.

Has that been a force for good?  If you look at the issue, every major technological innovation has both good and bad connected with it.

At one point, the automobile, as noted in this article was a “toy for the rich” but it soon became a powerful force, as one historian put it “freeing people from the limits of their geography”

On the other hand, the Association for Safe International Road Travel says more than 32 hundred people are killed in car crashes each day around the world.  Technological innovations in other industries have improved productivity, but have also eliminated jobs.

Former Governor General David Johnston opened the second day of the conference unveiling the Tech for Good Declaration. 

  1. Build trust and respect your data.
  2. Be transparent and give choice
  3. Reskill the future of work
  4. Leave no one behind
  5. Think inclusively at every stage
  6. Actively participate in collaborative governance.

You can read the full declaration and the accompanying explanation at the link above.

But it really comes down to another sentence from Mr. Johnston.

“Do the right thing. Not just the thing right”


True North described itself this way:




Technology is inevitable. But what does it mean to be human in a tech-driven world? As we speed towards an unknown future, there are fundamental, difficult and sometimes scary issues that will divide and unite us.

True North is a two-day conversation about the intersection of humans and technology. It’s an opportunity to imagine and re-imagine the impact of technology — the good and the bad. To examine the values that guide technology innovation. And to redefine tech as a force for good.

As Bozoma Saint John, the Chief Brand Officer for Uber told True North attendees, “The intention of technology is to make life better”

But she also noted, as we all go through our lives “There are rare moments of empathy. How often do we miss them?”

Last week’s conference covered a wide range of topics. Beyond the workshop creating the Tech for Good declaration, participants also heard from industry leaders like Shopify’s Loren Padelford who says his company’s e-commerce technology is doing good by empowering people to create their own businesses.

There is, as we said earlier, good and bad in everything.

Where do we go from here?