In the year 1820, a person could expect to live less than 35 years, 94% of the global population lived in extreme poverty, and less that 20% of the population was literate. Today, human life expectancy is over 70 years, less that 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty, and over 80% of people are literate. These improvements are due mainly to advances in technology, beginning in the industrial age and continuing today in the information age. There are many exciting new technologies that will continue to transform the world and improve human welfare. Here are eleven of them.
Across various domains--such as health, education, and housing--improving societal welfare involves allocating resources, setting policies, targeting interventions, and regulating activities. These solutions have an immense impact on the day-to-day lives of individuals, whether in the form of access to quality healthcare, labor market outcomes, or how votes are accounted for in a democratic society. Problems that can have an out-sized impact on individuals whose opportunities have historically been limited often pose conceptual and technical challenges, requiring insights from many disciplines. Conversely, the lack of interdisciplinary approach can leave these urgent needs unaddressed and can even exacerbate underlying socioeconomic inequalities. To realize the opportunities in these domains, we need to correctly set objectives and reason about human behavior and actions. Doing so requires a deep grounding in the field of interest and collaboration with domain experts who understand the societal implications and feasibility of proposed solutions. These insights can play an instrumental role in proposing algorithmically-informed policies. In this article, we describe the Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) research agenda, which involves using insights from algorithms, optimization, and mechanism design to improve access to opportunity. The MD4SG research community takes an interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach to improve societal welfare. We discuss three exciting research avenues within MD4SG related to improving access to opportunity in the developing world, labor markets and discrimination, and housing. For each of these, we showcase ongoing work, underline new directions, and discuss potential for implementing existing work in practice.
Technology is and has always been a crucial part of finance. From the first promissory notes (banknotes) in the Netherlands and China, there was a race with counterfeiters that parasitically undermined trust. As in political communication, technology is the message, rather than merely "a tool": when it comes to money, trust is not just instrumental, it is fundamental. With cashless payments being the norm and social media platforms weαving an additional layer of involvement in our social data web – Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already in our wallets, business, and financial affairs. In a non-western setting, one may refer to the Chinese "social rating" system, which allows the state to value and evaluate social behaviour patterns, creating a link to individual credit rating.
You may not think the number of words in an email subject line says anything about you, but at least one company is betting that the metric can help determine your likelihood of paying back a loan. LenddoEFL, based in Singapore, is one of a handful of startups using alternative data points for credit scoring. Those companies review behavioral traits and smartphone habits to build models of creditworthiness for consumers in emerging markets, where standard credit reporting barely exists. In addition to analyzing financial-transaction data, Lenddo's algorithm takes into consideration things such as whether you avoid one-word subject lines (meaning you care about details) and regularly use financial apps on your smartphone (meaning you take your finances seriously). Lenddo also looks at the ratio of smartphone photos in your library that were taken with a front-facing camera, since selfies indicate youth, helping the company divide people into customer segments.
Crowdfund Insider reached out to the Fintech community members to look into their crystal balls and make some predictions for the upcoming year in their respective sectors. Their predictions cover a wide range of topics including crowdfunding, social missions, regulations, open banking, capital markets, AI, blockchain and community bank. "In 2019 there will be more than one crowdfunding exit of a company worth in excess of a billion dollars in which crowdfunding participants were able to invest through platforms." With regard to Fintech, Medved believes that "money will continue to roll in to the Fintech sector in a wide range of companies including blockchain, payments, alternative investment platforms and more. Banks will increasingly join the funding of this disruption."