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Why now?

The Tech for Humanity initiative recognizes that technology is fundamentally a human issue that demands comprehensive, human-centered approaches. Virginia Tech is uniquely positioned to help lead this new era of human-centered technology.

The human-centered guidance of technology, focusing on the societal impact of technology, is already becoming a grand challenge of our time.

  • Innovation is increasing the gap between what is technologically possible and what may or may not be in the best interest of human society and a viable future.
  • Rising uncertainty over privacy, healthcare, democracy, labor, warfare, security, and human identity have already begun to disrupt social norms.
  • Algorithms that combine humans and machines in decision-making processes of collective autonomy increasingly affect the lives of billions of people globally.
  • Classic concerns about human identity and experience are now being reshaped by the ability to genetically alter human bodies and to combine human and non-human DNA.
  • Rapid progress in artificial intelligence, human-machine combining (cybernetics), and synthetic biology clearly indicate that technology is not only technical; it is also social, cultural, political, and economic.


A ground-shift is reshaping the role of human-centered scholarship for technology innovation.

The growth of efforts to support ethical, humanistic approaches to Artificial Intelligence at academic institutions are examples of this new trend. Military technology is generating urgent attention to human-centered approaches as the world’s leading military industrial states make Artificial Intelligence and human-machine combining (cybernetics) more central to the future of war. Leading technology companies are investing in human-centered methods for innovation and design by forming ethics boards, hiring humanities experts, or funding human-centered academic research. These developments underscore the growth of a new era in human-centered approaches for guiding the study, development, and use of technology.