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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

Taylor is the Founder and CEO of OpenFn, an integration-platform-as-a-service company that serves to make the critical technologies employed by international development projects easier to automate and combine. He is interested in digital transformation and technology-enabled interventions across the majority world, particularly open-source technologies and government partners.

Previously, Taylor co-founded and served as CEO of Vera Solutions. From offices in Boston, Washington DC, Cape Town, Mumbai, and Geneva, Vera has now served more than 250 impact-first organisations and employs 50 technology-for-development consultants around the world. Before Vera, he lived in Southern Africa while working for Grassroot Soccer (health organization that leverages the power of soccer to equip young people with the life-saving information, services, and mentorship they need to live healthier lives) and consulted on intervention design and training NGOs in the region.

He received the first annual Harvard SECON Social Impact Award and the 2017 Pizzigati Prize for Software Development in the Public Interest. He was named to Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list, and is a 2012 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2014 Rainer Arnhold Fellow, and 2015 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow.

Taylor holds a BA in Religious Studies with a focus on Tibetan Buddhism from Amherst College and an MSc in Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

A few years ago, a New York Times opinion piece by Paul Krugman on the subject of automation sparked an interesting public conversation. A blogger for the Economist, relying heavily on Tyler Cowen’s response, eventually wrote that a “society of adequately shared prosperity not based on constant, disruptive, inefficient redistributive intervention will need to be based on universal ownership of claims to the output of robots.” This has stuck with me and I think it is possible to envision a future with very different concepts of capital ownership. We are breaking new ground when it comes to intellectual property and artificial intelligence. I want to explore that space, the legal and ethical ramifications of various positions, and the role of governance and democracy in a fast accelerating technological landscape.

Taylor Downs


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