by Lauren DeLisa Coleman
America and the world at large are, unfortunately, no strangers to violence. Whether it’s that which was an off-shoot of the uprisings in Egypt earlier this year, Syria today or South Central LA and French suburbs tomorrow; clashes occur and often times directly from the youth demographic. But while many might think the task of monitoring such upheaval falls solely to activists or policy makers alone, I recently found out that those who are well entrenched in the technology game who are about to make some bold contributions.
Welcome to Google Ideas, a new division of the tech giant, which is poised to enter into its first public effort at the end of this month in Dublin, Ireland. Overseen by Jared Cohen, a former member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and one-to-watch in the convergence of tech and geo-politics, Google Ideas is producing Summit Against Extreme Violence (SAVE) in conjunction with both the Council on Foreign Affairs and Tribeca Film Festival. A definite first of its kind as well as the first from this new Google division, SAVE will bring together more than fifty former members of violent, exploitative organizations-from inner-city gangs and right-wing militants to nationalist groups and religious extremist groups-all of whom are actively and publicly working in organizations dedicated to helping youth find positive alternatives to violent extremism.
With an estimated 80-90 formers coming from about 25 different countries, representing about 8-12 different languages, who were affiliated with as many as 40 different groups as well as survivors of terrorism and violence and NGOs and academics all touching down in a country noted for transitioning away from violent extremism; SAVE should be anything but boring as the event works to create a global conversation around ways in which violence can be prevented and ways in which technology can assist in reaching that objective.
If this big bite is only Google Idea’s first public effort, we will surely be watching for others from this interesting offering. In fact in previous interview’s Jared has described the division as a “a new think/do tank” created to tackle some of the world’s most intractable issues from counterterrorism to counterradicalization and more by bringing together various stakeholders. Due to the fact that technology is playing such a pivotal role from extremist recruitment to pro-democracy efforts, Google Ideas seeks to create direct conversations and solutions in these areas given the company’s great strength in execution of technology.
And it’s about time someone started checking for youth in this manner. Given that Jared recently unveiled stats in his blog that said that “more than 50 percent of the world’s population under the age of 30 and the vast majority of those are characterized as ‘at risk,’ socially, economically, or both, an oversupply exists of young people susceptible to recruitment by the extremist religious or ideological group closest to them in identity or proximity”; the situation could well be one of the most pressing of our time. One wishes Google Ideas well. In fact should their proactive approach work, it just may be one of the company’s most significant and important formulas yet.