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Data & AI for Good, with Marga Hoek, Founder & CEO, Business for Good

Marga and Adel explore the fourth industrial revolution, how data and AI enable real-time information sharing, use cases of tech for good initiatives, how collaboration can bridge the gap in investment for sustainable business ventures and a lot more. 
Nov 2023

Photo of Marga Hoek
Guest
Marga Hoek

Marga Hoek is a true visionary on sustainable business, capital, and technology and a successful business leader. As a three-time CEO, Board Member, Chair, and Founder of Business for Good, she applies her vision on how business can be a true force for good in practice. As a bestselling and multi-award-winning author, member of Thinkers50, and one of the most in-demand speakers on sustainable business and ESG investment, Marga Hoek has inspired many companies and leaders worldwide. She is also appreciated as a global voice for G20 and G7 Intergovernmental forums, international climate meetings and COPs, and many other prestigious global conferences.


Photo of Adel Nehme
Host
Adel Nehme

Adel is a Data Science educator, speaker, and Evangelist at DataCamp where he has released various courses and live training on data analysis, machine learning, and data engineering. He is passionate about spreading data skills and data literacy throughout organizations and the intersection of technology and society. He has an MSc in Data Science and Business Analytics. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with his cat Louis.

Key Quotes

We really have to pick back up and accelerate. But then comes in the phenomenon of technology. And technology, when applied ethically and responsibly, with the intent to address these challenges, can actually, I think, be our biggest ally in this whole transformation to a sustainable society. It can help find solutions that we couldn't before. It can help us reach places we couldn't before with way lower cost. It can help us scale up solutions much more quicker. So technology is hugely important and we can't do it without it

It's not knowledge that brings humanity forward in the end, but it's imagination. So use your imagination and be bold and dare to innovate.

Key Takeaways

1

AI is not just a technology for building chatbots and replicating human intelligence. It is also a foundation to enhance current technologies such as self-driving cars, manufacturing robots and systems that prevent overfishing, monitor plant life and detect plant disease.

2

Prepare for the transition of labor in the age of data & AI. According to the World Economic Forum, 25% of jobs will be disrupted by AI and emerging technologies, with 75 million jobs disappearing. However, 133 new jobs will appear in their absence.

3

Collaboration of all stakeholders is what will drive more trust into tech for good initiatives. Business leaders to take the responsibility to apply technology with an ethical intent to address sustainable development goals.

Links From The Show

Transcript

Adel Nehme: Hello everyone. Welcome to DataFramed. I'm Adel, Data Evangelist and Educator at DataCamp, and if you're new here, DataFramed is a weekly podcast in which we explore how individuals and organizations can succeed with data and AI. There's often this debate and technology ethics on whether technology is neutral or.

On one hand, critics have rightfully pointed out examples of technology exacerbating the climate crisis, amplifying bias, as we've seen in our recent episode with Joy Buolamwini, or contributing to the spread of misinformation and disinformation. Conversely, we cannot deny the many wonderful things technology has given us.

From better healthcare, the ability to communicate wherever we are in the world, or to elevate the quality of life of everyone on the planet. It is this duality that today's guest, Marga Hoek, points to as to why technology is neutral and why it is in our hands to use it for good. Marga Hoek has been at the forefront of sustainable business, capital, technology.

As a three time CEO, board member, chair, and founder of Business for Good, She has always demonstrated how business and technology can be a force for good. She's also a best selling author, and her most recent book, Tech for Good, Solving the World's Greatest Challenges, is a big focus of today's discussion.

Throughout the episode, we talk about how technology can be leveraged for solving challenges like climate change, income inequality and sustainability, why data and AI will be foundational fo... See more

r achieving humanity's biggest goals, how organizations and leaders can drive the tech for good agenda, and a lot more.

Just one note before we jump into the chat, there are certain points where the audio quality on the episode slightly goes down. We're really sorry about that, but we hope it's still a useful conversation for you. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe to the show, give it a rating. share on social, we'd love to hear your feedback.

Now onto today's episode.

Margot Hoek, it's great to have you on the show.

Marga Hoek: Thank you, Adel. It's a great pleasure to be here.

Adel Nehme: So your resume is too long to list, but you've held numerous CEO positions at multiple private and public companies. You have founded the Dutch Sustainable Business Association. You also hold numerous advisory board positions. You're an author, and your most recent book, Deck for Good, is what we're going to talk about today.

So maybe to set the stage, walk us through why you decided to work on the book Deck for Good, and what's the vision of the future you're trying to paint here?

Marga Hoek: Yeah, well, that's actually a huge question, Adam. So, yeah, to get started when you, you were giving a description of my, background and experience, I think it's good to, share a little bit about that leading up to why I wrote then in the end to Dig for Good. So I'm a business person, that is important to mention.

So I've led companies, as you mentioned, been a CEO of three companies, and throughout that time, it became more and more clear to me That I want to be a business leader that makes business a power for good. Because I found that you can do business in a good way, in a profitable way with a strong competitive position and great outlooks.

At the same time, you can, leverage the power of your business to create ecological, social and governance value, ESG, or just a positive impact in the world, if you will. And I was fascinated that you can do that. That you can be an entrepreneur and a business leader, and then be worth more than just, the balance sheet of your company to contribute to creating a better world by business.

I found that fascinating. By now, I mean, many people embrace that, thinking and, and many CEOs, repeat that same message. But back then, and I'm talking over 20 years ago, it was rather innovative. It was a new approach, we talked about social conscious entrepreneurship and those things, but it was more about doing your business while not harming too much.

And I around, I said, business must be a first for good and can create a better world. and be a great company at the same time. And having that approach and done that by experience and implementing it in all kinds of innovative business cases and collaborations, I was asked to set up the Dutch Sustainable Business Association because governments wanted to have a different dialogue with businesses because back then, sustainability was not integrated in the heart of companies yet.

So I did that and that brought me into such a privileged position. To get to know over 250 companies in the Netherlands alone and later throughout Europe, many thousands, what they were struggling with, how they could do it and how all of us together could create a movement that business does contribute to the world.

And then in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals were being developed. and embraced by 193 countries around the world, which is quite a big thing. And at that time, I was talking to some business leaders and I noted that everybody was talking about it, everything, everybody thought it was a great idea, but now what?

If now business has to action it, and what are we supposed to do? How can we do that? And also there was very little awareness that, yes, we need to address those sustainable development goals, the 17 goal do list for the world between 2015 and 2030, but that can be done, as I experienced before in my career with a positive business case.

So that will be the idea to write the trillion dollar shift, emphasizing that business needs the sustainable development goals as much as the sustainable development goals need business. That actually by engaging we can unlock new markets aside of $12 trillion. That book took off very well and it got a golden award and everything like that was a bestseller.

But having written that book and moving on a couple of years, I wrote it that very few people actually knew about the role of technology and all of that. And I also noted that technology evolves really quickly. That we move the threshold of the so called fourth industrial revolution. And that actually there's a huge potential to synergize sustainability.

and technology as to accelerate and fuel the sustainable transformation, but also equally to benefit businesses, I believe in this shared value concept. So I know that there are very people, very few people know about these technologies. I mean, they have heard something and they know it's supposed to find it important, but what is it really about?

And I knew it had a huge impact to accelerate sustainability. And it's also fascinating once you find out all kinds of business cases and companies that actually do this, it gives you hope because then you see, Oh, we can do so much more than we could before because technology enables us to do all kinds of things we couldn't do before.

It accelerates things, it unlocks markets, and it can even, you know, in a way. Make up for lost time and bring us back on track to achieving those goals. Because as we find ourselves at the midpoint, between 2015 and 2030, we're not anywhere near the midpoint of achieving those goals. So you could also turn this around.

We desperately need technology to even stand a chance of achieving those goals without technology, we can't. With the help of technology, we really stand a chance.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, that's really great. And I really appreciate the holistic overview here and the the importance of stakeholder capitalism in a lot of ways that vision that you're trying to paint here and the importance of businesses and driving this tech for good vision. Now kind of deep diving more what you mentioned here is the fourth industrial revolution.

The word tech for good, the book title is divided into two parts, right? Tech and good. So maybe starting off with the tech part, right? The fourth industrial revolution that you mentioned, you discuss eight different technologies here. That will be foundational to help us accelerate sustainability and development goals to, unlock new value.

When driving sustainability and development goals, walk us through these technologies in a bit more detail and what potential readers of the book can expect here.

Marga Hoek: When you look at these new technologies and everything that, appears on the horizon whilst we enter this industrial revolution in the form, as you all know, was about digitalization, this revolution actually blends physical and digital technologies. And whilst the former digitalization revolution was very focused on digitalization per se.

Now we have a broad variety, a wide range of advanced technologies, physical and digital and blending. And that's the first notion to have when you talk about all of these technologies, that it's not just, although very important, AI or robotics or any of these, but that it's a wide range and it's actually not technologies.

I'll rather call them technology groups, because it's like, it's just a way of structuring the book, you could say, to divide all these technology groups into eight groups. And within these groups, you have a lot of variations. And of course, it's about the combination of these groups because that's another good notion about this growth industrial revolution.

Every technology doesn't stand by itself, but is being combined, two, three, four technologies, and that together creates an application. Some technologies are very foundational and others are technologies that build on it. So, while mentioning that, the eight groups you ask in the book are AI and data, 3D printing, robotics, advanced materials, extended realities, or in other words, augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and drones.

Blockchain and space tech. These are all eight groups. They speak for themselves, I would say. And most importantly is the combination of, the different groups. So let me give you an example because we can do it. A tech talk here, and then we'll lose the listeners. I'm afraid, but to give you one example, for instance, Azure firm beats is a company in the U S.

And which focuses on farming and agriculture. That's their folk. And that they apply technologies like AI, drones, satellites, image based machine learning algorithms. And jointly, all these technologies set out to increase the productivity for the farms. the reason to apply it to get more out of this farm.

Now, obviously those farms create healthy food and we have a huge need for that. I mean, we have a growing need for food, although we waste a lot. So that's important. And together these technologies create, for instance, images of the farm to the square meter enabling crop decisions. So to make better decisions for the crop.

To optimize labor, to improve the output. By optimizing conditions, so, the crop has the best possible conditions, by detecting diseases early and solving it so that we don't have crop loss. And in a way, it's a data driven way of farming. So that's an example how these technologies combined together bring solutions.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, that's really great. And then, we talked about here, the technology applications and how they come together. There's also, the other side of the book, which is, what good is in application, right? Maybe walk us through how you define the barometer for what a prosperous future looks like.

You mentioned the sustainability development goals. Walk me through the research behind that. And more importantly, how do you view the role of technology and accelerating this sustainable, sustainability and development goals in many ways? Thank you.

Marga Hoek: Well, I just mentioned it, these Sustainable Development Goals. Actually, you could say that's the new definition of sustainability. Before, we had the millennials, and they were very much focused on lifting people out of poverty. Because back then, sustainability or ESG or whatever you want to call it.

Was very much of importance to governments and NGOs and at that time, less so for business. I mean, that grew over time when we achieve those millennial goals. And fortunately, at that time we did, and many, many millions of people were actually lifted out of poverty. Then, of course, by then we had a grown awareness that we had many more challenges than poverty that.

At that time, the sense of the importance to beat climate change was growing. We became more aware that biodiversity is a huge problem. We became to the, we came to the realization it's actually ecological challenges, social challenges, and governance challenges. And that all came into fruition when the Sustainable Development Goals were selected.

17 goals, all falling into the buckets of EESG. And jointly, they represent all the challenges we have in the world. So by achieving them, we have a lasting, sustainable, and just world. And by just, I mean the inequality and, everybody having basic human right way of living around the planet. So what I find a prosperous future is, in that sense, well described by these sustainable development goals.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, they came with a timeline. We set them out in 2015, we're at midpoint now, and we need to achieve them in 2030. And by no means are we on track. Now, having said that, that also has to do with COVID, of course. The Corona pandemic, pushed back on progress flat out and then made us decline.

So we really have to pick back up and accelerate, but then comes in the phenomena of technology and technology when applied ethically and responsibly with the intent to address these challenges. Can actually, I think I'll be our biggest ally in this whole transform to sustainable society. It can help find solutions that we couldn't be for.

It can help us reach places we couldn't before with way lower costs. It can scale up solutions much more quicker. So technology hugely. important and we can't do it without it. As I mentioned before, it addresses 70 percent of the sustainable development goals. So 70 percent sustainable development goals directly profits from technology.

And last but not least, let me touch upon one other point that is that it also can help bridge the investment gap. There's a huge amount of capital needed to achieve those sustainable development goals. And investments in technology, which are often good investments, can help to bridge that gap while also, creating higher impact.

So there's so many reasons why we must want to apply tech for good, addressing these sustainable development goals.

Adel Nehme: Yeah. And one thing that I love about the book is that it actually is grounded with a lot of practical examples about how tech is used to advance a lot of these sustainable development goals. You mentioned the Azure FarmBeats, example and use case. You also discussed how to...

sustainable, like how these different technologies when combined together can accelerate sustainable development goals. Maybe walk us through some of your favorite use cases and examples that you've covered in the book that kind of showcase a blueprint for how we can leverage technology for advancing sustainability and development goals.

Marga Hoek: Yeah, with pleasure. And it's good that you mentioned that, because I often find when I do keynotes, and I meant, and I, and I experienced that with the Trillion Dollar Ship book already. that people absolutely love those cases because we can share all kinds of technology but when you share real life cases of companies that have done it and of course not everything is a success huh so i don't want to share only cases that become a huge success i mean the failures are Not failures, because there were attempts from which we learned.

So,

Adel Nehme: Their learnings. Yep.

Marga Hoek: yeah, yeah, they're learning. So it's, it's, it's about that, but the concrete cases helps people. And it's also the storytelling that's in behind those cases, which is inspiring. So throughout the new book, Tech for Good, we have 75 real life business cases described. All of those cases apply one or several of these advanced technologies of the eight groups that we just described.

And for every case, we describe what is this company doing? How is it applying certain or a number of technologies? What is the impact of it on the sustainable development goals? So we mentioned the specific STGs, as you can abbreviate them. In every case, and what does it do in real life? how much impact does it have?

How does it grow and, and what does it do? And you asked me to mention a couple of those cases. That's always difficult. Now I have to choose from so many, but I'll mention a few. Let me just go through quickly through a couple of examples. For instance, Capgemini, which is a financial services company headquartered in France, but a global company.

They aimed to preserve the Mojave desert in the U S and they partnered. And this is also typical for companies that are forward thinking in terms of sustainability and technology. Partner with no surprising organizations in this case, the nature conservatory in Nevada. And they created with a combination of text algorithms to trace paths and outside parts, areas.

to estimate the erosion as to make sure to take timely action. So that's one thing that's so important with artificial intelligence. We can get a huge amount of data, analyze them, make them actionable, and then take action. Can't without the technology. anOther company is Relitech, who is 3D printing from waste.

I mean, that's such a simple thought, huh? We

Adel Nehme: Yeah,

Marga Hoek: print. But why use natural resources for it? Let's focus on the technology to change that into printing from waste. And quite some early startups in Africa, for instance, use that technology or in regions where we unfortunately still have a lot of waste like India to apply that principle to clean up the land in a way and for new products.

Because not only is that impactful and has a low cost, but also it creates an awareness To think about value rather than waste. So has that impact. And for instance, my cried infinite in Kenya, in Africa, they use 3d printed prototypes to support surgeons had they not have access to the 3d printed prototypes, they wouldn't be able.

To do those surgeons, but this is a help way of educating them. And now they can frame lab in New York is an initiative which is very creative. It's actually 3d printed homes for the, for the homeless, but it's done in a vertical way and it's like 3d printed cells that might sound unattractive, but it's actually not ugly at all throughout the city.

And because it's vertical, it needs very little space and. The costs are way lower than building anything else. And that way we can secure a much more homes, especially in the winter for the homeless interface, a carpet, our company listed company in the U S went on a mission zero early on chief debt. And then set out to boost innovations, help with the technology to be a positive impact in the world.

I talk a lot about this, you know, and for instance that project Climate Take Back is a technology that takes out carbon from the air via an ingenious process, creates granules for it as a resource for carpets and then uses it. So this whole carbon removal market is growing rapidly as you know. cRoatia has a web platform and a mobile app called Freewa for mapping free drinking water locations around the world.

Sounds very simple, but very much needed. Well, The list goes on. I can mention a lot more cases, but let me pause here.

Adel Nehme: yeah. And that's, that's a really excellent kind of overview of different use cases here because, you mentioned case studies that accelerate our ability to take action on climate, you mentioned use cases that accelerate our ability to tackle homelessness you know, accelerate our ability to, create new materials in a sustainable way.

And what I love about, the examples that you're mentioning here is that they truly paint a very hopeful picture. Thank you. vision of technology. And you, mentioned this example by Capgemini about using data and AI to track, trace paths and outside paths erosion to conserve the Mojave Desert in the U.

S. And I think, it wouldn't be a Data Framed episode if we don't deep dive about the potential applications of data and AI. So maybe, Walk us in more detail how you view the role of data and AI in a bit more detail driving the tech for good agenda. What excites you about data and AI and driving applications here for technology for good?

Marga Hoek: AI, in essence, enables us to share real time on a global scale that enables us to analyze huge amounts of data that we couldn't before and take actionable results out of it. As I described earlier, it's a simple way to explain it. It can analyze large amounts of data to bring together insights from huge groups of patients, to improve diagnosis and predictive ana analysis.

And it has been applied for lung scans and diagnosing COVID, for instance. The great thing is that we can use huge pools of data, pull them together and make them mean something. Because without that analysis, it wouldn't mean something. And if we would have to do that without that technology, can you imagine how much time we would need and how much effort it would take to do that in another way?

And we don't have time. I just mentioned we're midpoint STGs, we are way behind. I mean, we have COP 28 in a couple of weeks from now and everybody's talking about, Oh, we're not going to make that 1. 5 degrees Celsius and all attempts to anyway. So we had very little time and that makes me so enthusiastic about technology because we can accelerate.

And we can progress much quicker with much more impact than without those technologies. And, and you touched upon AI and data. For instance, it can do in combination with other technologies, we can forecast floods and fires, we can monitor marine life, we can detect. Plant disease, we can advance education, a topic close to your heart as I know, we can prevent overfishing, we can warn against storms so that disasters don't hit so many people as before.

We can use AI and data in combination with other technologies to enhance self driving cars, manufacturing robots, and so on and so forth. It's a foundational technology that can do a lot. And I know that many people fear technology, doom technology. And of course, technologies are not without risks.

There are significant risks. But we cannot accept to say, okay, we're going to be like paralyzed because there's so many risks and we'll feel things because the world doesn't have time. So we need to, work together to be able to seize the value of technology in relation to, to ourselves and the planet.

Adel Nehme: You mentioned fear and anxiety here, and I think this touches upon my next question quite great. A lot of the recent waves of innovation that we've seen with AI, so maybe to preface, I'm a deep optimist when it comes to data and AI, I think I agree with your perspective that I think data and AI has the potential to really drive a lot of benefits for humanity in the next couple of decades and more to come.

But of course, the recent wave of innovation that I just mentioned here brought upon, especially by generative AI, has caused a lot of anxiety around what AI could mean for the future. I think, by having more of a vantage point on the space, I would categorize this anxiety into four broad areas.

The impact on, the labor market, potential job displacement, what it means for, the future of work. The impact of AI on perpetuating bias, systemic discrimination, making the world more unequal. The use of AI by malevolent actors, broad definition here, but could be, the use of AI for creating fake news, deep fakes.

Or, accelerating cyber threats. And yeah, I think more long term there's this risk of AI becoming an existential risk for humanity. Maybe focusing on that first risk, because I, I think this is really actionable for the next few years to come. I would love to focus on the impact on the labor market.

What do you view AI's impact on jobs and the labor market? And yeah, walk us through that particular risk as you see, and that kind of source of anxiety.

Marga Hoek: Yeah, I'll come to that in a second, but let me react also on what you just said before. The people fear technology and that, technology can be an existential risk as you mentioned it, and all bad things happen because of technology, we tend to blame technology. And actually that's not correct because now she in itself is neutral and it gets meaning.

By the way, we apply it, we being humans, the decisions we make direct future and the take of future and ultimately the future of our worlds. So if fear, then we actually should fear ourselves, because it's by people that use it for bad rather than for good. It's because of lack of regulations, good governance around technology that, those risks aren't addressed timely.

Which is understandable because it's so new to what to do with it. But we have to, step up to accelerate laws, regulations, and governance around technologies. And we have to be aware that all of us needs to be focused on applying technology in an ethical and a responsible way, because technology doesn't decide itself what it's going to do.

We decide. So sorry, Adele, I wanted to make that point because actually very important, I think.

Adel Nehme: I, I agree with you. Yeah.

Marga Hoek: Yeah, and then you talked about labor markets and potential for job displacements. Yeah, true. I mean, it was recently calculated by the World Economic Forum. That 25 percent of the jobs will be disrupted.

So, yeah, it was recently calculated by the World Economic Forum that actually 25 percent of the jobs will be disrupted soon. It also be calculated that around 75 million jobs will disappear, 133 new jobs will appear. So it's a transition. And this is of all times, with former revolutions, the same happened, of course, when we had the first and the second industrial revolution, we had a shift in labor because first everything was handmade.

And then we had factories and manufacturing processes and oil and gas and light and later digitalization. So, yes, it's not called a revolution without reason. There will be a huge transition of labor. Jobs that will disappear, but also other jobs that will appear. And it all comes down to our ability to act on that.

And I think most importantly to timely adapt education, because we need completely new competencies, some will be completely redundant. The biggest risk is that we are too slow in addressing what competencies and what new jobs will be coming up and will be important in the near future and what would be like educating for the past rather than for the future.

Adel Nehme: and you mentioned here education and skills transformation is something that we think about quite often on a data camp. I mean, how we should be thinking about the future skills of the workforce? How should governments, organizations, businesses react here?

Marga Hoek: As I mentioned, I mean, we need to think about what jobs will disappear, will be disappearing, if I Google the news and I'm interested in all those topics, so now, and again, I do that. I think 90 percent of what you see is about what jobs be disappearing, about fearing that what will be gone lost, who will lose their jobs.

And that's very important. I see very little about, okay, what are new competences that will be in demand because of technology taking over many roles. And what are the professions of the future? So one, don't only focus on what is going to disappear because, that's going to happen regardless of what you do, but focus on what is needed for the future in terms of skills, the new skillset, bring that into education and make sure you inform people that those are the winning kind of new professions and, and that we need people for that because we will not only face.

Lack of employment for those who don't have the skill set that is needed post fourth industrial revolution, so to say, but we'll also face a huge lack of people of workforce that does have those competencies and skills. To give you an example, focused on the renewable energy transition and rightfully so, but now already we are faced that we are pushing windmills.

on land and on sea, and we don't have people to repair those things. Because we forgot about not only putting those things out there, but that also there's a workforce needed to maintain them. And that applies to so many areas.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, and I couldn't agree more here on the importance of the, this future that you're that you're painting here of, it's going to be a transition, but many new jobs will be created as a consequence of AI. And we're going to see more of current work being augmented with AI rather than automated as well.

Now, one thing that we touched upon, you mentioned here the importance of human agency and how we use AI and technologies. Maybe, and one thing that you touched upon here is the importance of the correct governance. So maybe what do you expect? What do you think, the right appropriate of governance needs to look like for AI as this technology becomes more and more advanced?

I know that's a big question at the moment but I'd love to get your thoughts here.

Marga Hoek: Yeah, and I can't give you a simple answer on that question I'm afraid Adele, but what is important is to really think from the perspective, okay, what happens is the technology scales up, and it does scale up. Then what is important in terms of preventing male intent, what is needed to make sure that it's being applied with an ethical and a responsible intent.

That's the first thing. Second, the risks that come along with it. And they exist in case good and a bad intent, how do we mitigate those risks? Thirdly, how do we also hold companies responsible to apply tech in an ethical way? So if I compare, for instance the European Union does a lot now to safeguard that companies don't do window dressing better said.

They have to disclose a lot of information. They have to report and all of that, but that doesn't mean technology. So we have to give it the same importance as sustainability to technology and connect the two. That is ultimately important. How to do that precisely, I don't know, and it's but it is a collaboration of all stakeholders involved here.

It's not just go I was thinking about that because day before yesterday in the news and World Economic Forum spread that 100 CEOs writing a letter, what they expect of the governments to decide on at COP28. That's all great that they say, the governments have to do the procurement in the right way.

They have to invest more. They have to do this, they have to do that. What lacked in the letter is also what business is going to do themselves. I didn't see any non worth, like, okay, we create a fund together. These hundred CEOs and we'll scale up this, or instead of only committing to our 2030 and 2015 goals, now we step up because we know we're behind.

So we'll do that, and then governments, if you do that, then together, we accelerate progress. So, we all need to collaborate on it, all stakeholders involved, to make it progress.

Adel Nehme: Yeah. And I think. You're mentioning here the roles of businesses, in taking leadership and being proactive and, taking ownership of the kind of tech for good agenda, the SG agenda. And I think this is really related to this concept of trust that you mentioned as well in our discussion, right?

I think it will be crucial for technology and the tech industry in general to have strong trust with society in order to drive these applications for tech for good. But you mentioned there's increasing distrust in technology, right? There's this increasing belief that is a net negative

Marga Hoek: it's strong, it's in an all time low, huh,

Adel Nehme: Yeah, yeah, yeah, 100 percent all time low on, on technology. What is driving that distrust and how can we restore that trust?

Marga Hoek: What's driving the distrust is, of course, everything that people see and read in the news of, for instance, a handful of corporates, big tech, often. or entrepreneurs, using technology for the self interest of their individual or company by other incidents that were in the news, for instance, in the States around cryptocurrencies.

There's a lot of technology with, not lacking an ethical intent that is going on now that should be stopped because that does a lot of harm. Even worse, because it combines with the fear that people already have, because everybody always fears, transformations they don't control.

So the connection of those bad incidents with the fear that's already there is, decremental. So what needs to be done is, as I just mentioned, collaboration of all stakeholders. We need better regulations policies, governance, and more timely, not lagging behind, because then it doesn't help.

We need Business leaders to take the responsibility to apply technology with an ethical intent and preferably to really address these sustainable development goals. There's huge amounts of market opportunities. There's no need. to apply it for me with mail intent. And then we need investments to scale, a lot more money needs to go into that.

In the beginning of our conversation, I mentioned that technology can actually bridge the funding gap there is for the SDGs. Then we have to invest a lot more shift capital. So to say, I mean, currently there was an all time high amount of three, three trillion dollars. Invested in subsidies for fossil fuels.

I mean, that's huge. we have no choice. We have to redirect it. It's crazy. So all those things together should help to scale it up and, in that sense, that's also the reason why I wrote this book. I wanted to shed a light on technology, how it can actually help as opposed to everything that people read, that only brings down the trust further.

I hope my book helps to build the trust in that sense. And if everybody reads what it can do and the good things that it being done around the world already, that, oh, that might be a little stone helping to build that trust.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, and I think you're mentioning here about, Something a central message of the book is that it's all in our hands, right? Maybe I'll quote here a section from the book technology itself is neutral. It is the implication of technology that count rather than the applications. We can decide how to use technology.

And, the examples of these applications that you've mentioned, showcase, really strong leadership and driving technology for good. And the applications that you mentioned that are driving distrust, for example, are also, maybe a lack thereof here. Maybe I think capping off today's discussion, walk us through the role that technologists, leaders have in making sure that tech is used for goods, for good.

how should leaders be thinking about the tech for good agenda?

Marga Hoek: I think we all have to be a little bit more moonshot thinkers.

I describe in the book the concept of moonshot thinking for a reason. in a good definition because they use, you know, everything becomes a buzzword at a certain point and then it's, it's in the wrong way. But in its pure essence, it means that you start thinking from the perspective of these sustainable development goals of one or several of our huge challenges.

So for instance, climate change, feeding hunger, whatever. If you start thinking from that perspective and then think back to what competencies, what assets do I have with my company? What can I do to contribute to that? And you translate that into business solutions, that assures you. That whatever you do, it will be an ethical approach because it is ethical in the beginning when you start thinking from the global challenges and then relate back to business is starting from, the end reasoning back, so to say, I think that's the best approach because that's yours that you try to solve a problem.

I wish many more entrepreneurs and companies think like that. On the other hand, there's many front run connors. That has proved by now, thinking of a dear friend of mine, Facky Cider's mother, former CEO of DSM, who had, for instance, a slogan saying, purpose driven, but performance led. Purpose driven means that you start thinking from the challenger, not from yourself, but from what is going on in the world.

How can my company contribute to it? And then translate it into a business driven approach, which is fine. Companies need to make money in order to be sustainable. That's not the problem. So I hope many more people will do that. And in that sense, contribute to the tech for good movement. And one thing that gives me a lot of hope.

is that with the change of generations, and currently we have five generations in the workforce, which has never happened before, and millennials, Generation Z and Alpha, after that will soon be the majority of the marketplace, the workforce, and so on. And they have two advantages. One is that by, in essence, they're more purpose driven than former generations.

They find sustainability in contributing to a better world more important than former generations. Second, they're either tech savvy or tech native, so they're inclined to be much more engaged with technology and less worried about things like privacy and so on than former generations. And that should be wind in the sail of this movement.

Adel Nehme: Yeah. And you mentioned these generations here, right? And in a lot of ways. advocating for the tech for good agenda when you work for an organization requires courage, right? It requires to challenge the status quo. what's your advice for leaders who want to challenge the status quo?

How can they make the case here?

Marga Hoek: I think challenging the status quo is not a purpose in itself. I mean, it's about creating value for our future. And if you have to challenge the status quo to do that, then you have to do that. And I know that's often the case because when I was CEO of the Dutch Sustainable Business Association, for instance, we were constantly in a dialogue with governments because the current rules and regulations were actually preventing us to create more sustainable business models.

then accelerating it. So a lot of change is needed there and the same applies to tech. But the purpose must be to create positive impact, to create real value and real progress. And with that comes often the struggle to free yourself of current limitations, which you then have to,

Adel Nehme: And then this is where technology comes in to, innovate and drive new value. Now, Marga, as we close out our conversation what do you most hope readers will learn from and take away from this book?

Marga Hoek: well, of course, I hope that they, they learn more about the technologies that they familiarize themselves with it, that they come to the realization, you know, it's eight group of technologies in combination. They create a lot of value. Non tech sectors should apply it because it's not a tech thing anymore, related to one specific sector, but it applies to everyone and all that.

But I think. Moreover, and even more importantly. It is a book of hope. And I use the word imagine in the subtitle of the book, you know, it's imagine tech for good, soul's greatest challenges, because after I had written the book, I realized, it's hope that people need, to grow trust, to dare to take initiative and to, overcome any.

insecurities they have with technology because it can do so much good. And so every chapter in the book starts literally with imagine. And then I describe what you can imagine the tech could do. And what's imagines for instance, is about coral reefs, without action within a few decades, 99 percent of all coral reefs on earth will disappear.

And 10 percent already has disappeared. Now, of course, we need to change our behavior because the reason for this disappearance of the coral reefs is climate change and pollution. And so we need to solve. But having the problem of the coral reef, now we have the opportunity with 3d printing to recover coral reefs in weeks instead of a hundred years.

And that means that we can solve, we can mitigate the damage that has already been done. So I described these things to people so that they see well, you know, this is more important than fearing it. or then disengaging because this is what we can do. In that sense, it's a book of hope.

Adel Nehme: That's really great. I think this is a great note to end our episode on today, Marga. Finally, do you have any final call to action before we wrap up today's episode?

Marga Hoek: Call to action one is, of course, read the book, Adele. That makes sense. Call to action, yeah, get into action, you know, familiarize yourself with the topic read up on it, think about how your company can be a force for good, realize That that's the best way forward. If you don't want to do it for moral reasons, do it for business reasons.

And, there's a great one liner of Einstein that I sometime use. It's not knowledge that brings humanity forward in the end, but it's imagination. So use your imagination and be balls and dare to innovate.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, that's really great, Marga. Thank you so much for coming on DataFriend.

Marga Hoek: It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

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