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Amal Clooney calls on business and tech to solve world issues

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney urged technologists to look at how they can tackle issues that governments have failed to address

During the opening keynote of the SAP Ariba Live conference in Barcelona, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney urged delegates to look at how technology can be used to solve world issues.

She warned that while some technological breakthroughs, such as facial recognition, offer amazing benefits to society, such technologies can also be misused by governments that want to track dissidents.

Discussing her own experiences of making use of technology to help tackle societal issues, Clooney recalled a meeting with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Four years ago, my husband and I were at a meeting with Bill Gates, and Brad Smith [chief legal counsel at Microsoft] burst into the meeting and asked to speak to me. He said that if I needed a tech solution for any of the issues we were working on, Microsoft would help,” she said.

Clooney said that one of the applications developed by Microsoft provides a way to monitor court rooms. “We have a programme to place human monitors in court rooms all over the world where there is a high risk of human rights abuse,” she added.

She said the application developed by Microsoft gathers data in a way to create an injustice index of countries around the world, and takes away the variations of human monitoring.

“I have these extraordinary meetings with 20 Microsoft engineers and I have no idea what they do, they have no idea what I do, but somehow we create this tool together and we are going to make it available on the app store so that anybody in any community can make use of it,” she said.

Clooney said businesses have an opportunity to step in and fill a void when governments do not live up to expectations. “We want to harness people like you in this room to solve public sector problems. There is a great opportunity,” she added.

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