Tech industry can help save the world

Dr Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google's philanthropic arm, says the IT industry has a major role to play in tackling climate change and global disease

The technology industry can play a major role in tackling global disease and battling climate change, according to the executive director of, Dr Larry Brilliant.

Speaking at's Dreamforce user conference in San Francisco this week, Brilliant said Google's charitable arm,, has donated around $150m (£95m) in grants to charitable organisations since 2004 and allotted around $350m in online advertising space to not-for-profit organisations.

But Brilliant stressed that "ideas, flexibility and entrepreneurship" are even more important than donating money.

Google uses the same model as, in which one percent of revenue, one percent of equity and one percent of employees' time is devoted to good causes. also uses the Google Maps and News technology in its HealthMap system, to track outbreaks of diseases and help health organisations target them before they turn into epidemics.

Brilliant said: "The world is on a precipice of new diseases. This is an example of using emerging technology to tackle emerging diseases."

Brilliant has significant experience of combating diseases, having played a leading role in the successful global effort to eradicate smallpox while working for the World Health Organization.

Brilliant also explained's efforts to tackle climate change, including the RE<C programme, which aims to make renewable energy cheaper than coal.

He said: "Global warming is something that happens to all of us. We are in this together. It's critically important for corporations to step up."

Brilliant admitted that Google and others can only address "a handful of the world's problems", but said organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carter Center and the Rockefeller Foundation have the potential to do even more.

Speaking on the day of the US presidential election, Brilliant said people should be optimistic about the future. "Today is a good day to choose to save the world," he said.


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