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IEEE SSIT Lecture | Decolonising Data by Jim Fruchterman, CEO, Tech Matters

Society on Social Implications of Technology

Data is increasingly a source of great power, and wealth, in today’s society. The majority of benefits of our collective data extraction efforts tend to accrue to a limited number of people and organisations, and not to the typical individual or society at large.

IEEE Santa Clara Valley SSIT Chapter, IEEE UK and Ireland SSIT Chapter, and SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT are cooperating to organise this SSIT Lecture as a joint Chapter Webinar.


This talk will explore the issue of data in the social sector. In this era, it is unimaginable evaluating the impact and implementation of social programs without using large data sets. Unfortunately, all too often, organisations and researchers extract data from individuals, communities, and countries for their own purposes, and do not even make the data available to the subjects of that data. With data flows the power to make informed decisions.

It is ironic that international organizations committed to reversing the legacy of colonialism are employing highly colonial practices in their approach to data.

Decolonising data will help ensure that the benefits of data extraction and analysis will accrue to the rightful owners of that data, and greatly strengthen social programs at the local and national level.


Jim Fruchterman, CEO, Tech Matters is a leading social entrepreneur, a MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and a Distinguished Alumnus of Caltech.

After starting two successful machine learning companies, he went on to found Benetech, the award-winning tech non-profit. He’s built tools which help people with disabilities read independently and human rights groups document and analyse abuses.

His current projects at Tech Matters include Aselo, a shared modern contact centre for the crisis response field, and Terraso, a platform to bring better tools and more funding to locally-led sustainability initiatives to respond to climate change.


IEEE and SSIT Members as well as non-IEEE Members are invited to Register and participate. IEEE Members should include their IEEE Membership Number when registering and an email address as part of registration to facilitate receiving the meeting link prior to the event.

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