Digital Power: Ariadne Technology Programme

Ariadne members, like all grantmakers around the world, are faced with new, growing, and complex challenges presented by technology. To support our members to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities of technology, we have launched a 2-year programme on Digital Power. This programme will include opportunities for hands-on learning about technology and its implications for human rights; support for technology and data strategy development;  and facilitated discussions about key, intersectional technology issues that will require substantial collaboration to positively influence.

The programme kicked off May 2020 with a needs finding that led to the current programme design.  To support the needs of the network, we will focus on 2 types of activities:

    • Technology Touchpoints that happen regularly and are aimed at socialising concepts, knowledge, and approaches about data and technology
    • Landing Zone Conversations that allow foundations to come together to discuss shared strategies and analysis of data and technology issues

Technology Touchpoints

We anticipate that certain Ariadne members will be keen to learn more about particular topics, or may be invested in engaging with as much accessible content as they can get their hands on. To accommodate that learning and to support Ariadne to develop resources for the wider network, we will organise Technology Touchpoints on a monthly basis. These sessions will be 1.5 hours in length, and will be mostly instructional. 

These sessions will cover issues like:

    • Online public sphere
      • Algorithmic amplification
      • Networked harassment
    • Managing Technology for Operations
      • Approaches to digital product management
      • Open source: what is it, and when is it right?
    • Power, digital, and systems thinking
      • State use of technology: primer, case studies, challenges
      • Solidarity movements to ban facial recognition
      • Monopolies and value chain power
    • Applied Technology for Human Rights
      • Open Source Intelligence
      • Movement technology — digital organising infrastructure
    • Foundational Terminology and Technology
      • How the internet works
      • How statistics power machine learning
      • Navigating terms in data science and AI
      • Introduction to AI ethics
      • Security thinking

Landing Zone Conversations

We anticipate that there are issue areas that provide an exciting opportunity for engagement across levels of digital maturity. We hope to identify 5 of these issue areas over the next two years and support convenings that include Ariadne members who aren’t ‘technology funders’. The types of landing zone meetings we are looking for include:

    • Hate speech
    • Migration
    • Horizon Scanning
    • Public/Private Partnerships (in Technology)
    • Misinformation in Public Health
    • Misinformation in Elections
    • Environmental Investigation (Tech)
    • Strategic Litigation (in Big Tech)
    • Business and Human Rights
    • Freedom of Assembly (and New Forms of Surveillance)
    • Discrimation (and AI)
    • Access to Public Services

Background and Need

The Digital Power programme was borne out of several years worth of conversations and convenings between interested grantmakers and foundations considering digital power in Europe and how they could effectively support and grow the field of European digital rights. The convenings grew larger each year as smaller foundations joined the cause. Ultimately the original organisers felt the work should be made more accessible and expanded beyond digital and tech-fluent human rights foundations. 

The growing community is a testament to the fact that digital power is no longer a concern for a small specialized group of funders. Human rights and social justice funders across the board have started thinking about how digital power impacts their work. There is a unique opportunity – and urgency – at this moment in time to “burst the bubble” and create deeper connections among digital rights and social change and human rights funders to maximize the impact of our work.

Upcoming Events

Strategic Cohort

We are launching Ariadne’s strategic cohort process. Each strategic cohort consists of 5 members who will receive hands-on support to develop a technology approach within their team. The cohort methodology blends one-on-one sessions with larger group discussions that support each member to effectively incorporate technology and data issues into their foundation’s grantmaking.

For more information and to register, click here.

How to stay updated

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Questions? Get in touch with Alix Dunn, Project Lead or Maya Richman, Project Manager.

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