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How Technology Can Feed the World

Main Stage



    • The 2020 Goalkeepers Report, produced by the Gates Foundation, confirmed what many feared: over the past 25 weeks, progress on many of the Sustainable Development Goals has been thrown in reverse. For Liz Schrayer, this serves as a sobering reminder that we must take action, and we must do so promptly. 
    • Safra Catz offered an overview of today’s digital landscape. Perhaps the most crucial development—one that has enabled technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to flourish—has been the advent of the cloud, which is a set of data centers benefiting from massive economies of scale and accessible without large investments in capital. Importantly, the cloud has allowed for computing and computers to be sold at low prices. Inexpensive computing, when paired with the large quantities of data that are increasingly being made available, ultimately empowers key stakeholders to make smarter decisions. 
  • “When you bring together large amounts of data and very inexpensive compute capability, you unlock an ability to make better decisions,” Safra Catz 

    • USAID has launched a digital strategy for the very first time. Released in April 2020, the strategy charts USAID’s vision for development and humanitarian assistance in today’s rapidly-evolving digital landscape.USAID’s digital strategy sets forth a “digital by default” approach: the agency is now mandating that all programmatic data be collected and transmitted digitally. Bonnie Glick explained that USAID is looking to leverage low-cost data collection applications with built-in analytics, complex machine learning tools, and high-resolution geospatial imagery. 
    • According to Glick, USAID has expanded beyond just providing assistance in the form of food and water donations and governance programs; it is now helping emerging market countries overcome technology gaps and take advantage of leading technologies including 5G, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and, eventually, quantum computing. 
  • “Technology can and does save lives, whether it’s providing touchless transactions to reduce the spread of disease, or online cash transfer for those who are in the greatest need,” Bonnie Glick  

    • Oracle has teamed up with Israeli startup Agro-Scout to support farmers in the developing world. The two companies are providing farmers with autonomous scouting technology, which empowers farmers to discover pestilence and disease in a timely manner and apply pesticides only when and where they’re needed. With this technology, farmers are better equipped to prevent pestilence or disease outbreaks, ultimately leading to higher crop yield and less wasted labor.



Key takeaways & next steps:

  • We are at a critical juncture in international development. We need to move toward an era where technology is the key component of foreign assistance—to get there, we need deep private sector engagement.


Session Speakers