Guest blog by The Hague Hacks:

"We bring together the worlds of peace, justice, and technology"

On Friday 8 December, The Hague Peace Projects and ImpactCity jointly organize the first edition of The Hague Hacks. It’s an all-day conference that brings together the worlds of peace, justice, and technology. The Hague Peace Projects extends a warm welcome to all that are interested to join. Read their guest contribution below.

Rather than a first edition of a new event, The Hague Hacks might also be perceived as a follow-up of WTHX. WTHX had three successful editions over the past years and The Hague Hacks aims to fulfill the same mission: to provide a space where tech startups, NGOs, government and academics can connect and work together on solutions to social challenges and find opportunities of new technologies for the world of peace and justice.

Over the last decade, we have witnessed several major technological developments: breakthroughs in communication and drone technologies, constantly increasing access to big data, and the emergence of new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence. Of some of those technologies, we cannot even completely grasp the capacities and the extent of impact they will have. But one thing is clear: they are about to revolutionize key aspects of our society.

These disruptive effects of new technologies on markets, people and society create both new challenges and new opportunities. The challenges are being voiced by opinion leaders, such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, who are warning for weapon systems that can autonomously decide who lives and who dies. Or Edward Snowden, who has shown the extent to which governments are prepared to go in order to monitor, control and spy on their own citizens and others who are warning that robots are about to steal our jobs.

“Many established humanitarian organizations are lagging behind when it comes to implementing new technologies” – The Hague Hacks

New opportunities for non-profits

However, these new technologies also create a lot of new opportunities: not only new sources of profit, but also solutions to the non-profit sector. Using new technologies could dramatically alter and improve the reach, methods and effectiveness of the interventions by professional peace activists, human rights NGOs, international courts, and humanitarian aid and development organizations.

It has to be said that many of these established humanitarian organizations are lagging behind when it comes to implementing new technologies. The Hague Hacks will show that they have a great deal to gain by actively seeking for tech solutions to tackle global challenges like poverty, lack of freedom, injustice, conflict, and refugee crises.

A new market for tech companies

Tech companies, on the other hand, have a market to win by showing their solutions to a potentially new market in the world of peace and justice. The Hague Hacks 2017 will explore these opportunities: through seminars, workshops, art projects and personal stories, we will set the scene for fruitful connections and future collaborations between tech experts and humanitarian professionals. Participating NGOs include PAX, Free Press Unlimited, Open Knowledge, NJCM, Amnesty, Justice & Peace, and others. They are joined by tech experts from companies like Greenhost, Hack the Planet, The Hague Tech, and LexIQ.

What to expect

In the morning, there will be an introductory seminar and panel discussion, followed by an inspirational hour full of new ideas, pitches and networking opportunities. During the afternoon, the audience will split up in six different tables, working on six different challenges and solutions revolving around blockchain, artificial intelligence, open data, digital surveillance, polarization, and online activism in situations of conflict or repression.

Kaustubh Srikanth, a hacktivist, technologist, researcher and head of a technology non-profit, Tactical Technology Collective, will present his Totem Project. The project offers an online platform that aims to offer digital security training courses for human rights defenders. Hisham Almiraat, a Moroccan digital security activist and founder of the Moroccan Digital Rights Organization, will join him. Timo Schless of the Dutch Ministry of Defense will share their latest application based on the blockchain platform that could vastly widen the real-time understanding of a constantly changing battlefield. This could greatly benefit the work of humanitarian organizations.

Mohammed Alkhateeb will share his experiences as an online activist during the conflict in Syria and PAX will pose the challenge on how to counter polarization in The Netherlands online. And there is much more: art presentations, pitches of new ideas, working examples of tech-humanitarian collaborations, and the list continues. So come and join us to brainstorm, connect, and be inspired.

Interested to join The Hague Hacks? You are invited to join in tomorrow, 8 December, at The Grey Space. Find more information on The Hague Hacks’ website and on their Facebook event page. And book your ticket here.