It's up to tech to save the world

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.
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor
The technology industry can play a major role in tackling global disease and battling climate change, according to the executive director of Google.org, Larry Brilliant.

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

But Brilliant stressed that "ideas, flexibility and entrepreneurship" are even more important than donating money. Google uses the same model as Salesforce.com, in which one percent of revenue, one percent of equity and one percent of employees' time is devoted to good causes.

Google.org also uses the Google Maps and News technology in its HealthMap system, to track outbreaks of diseases and help health organizations 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 Google.org's efforts to tackle climate change, including the RE<="" p="">

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 organizations 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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