One of the first influences for GoodTechConf can be traced to Sept 2017 in the beautiful Lake District village of Penrith. For several years, Jon Pretty had single-handedly run a fantastic community focused conference on functional programming. Each year, Jon would work tirelessly to arrange various outdoor activities before the conference, followed by World class talks and rounding off the week with post conference hack events. However, the event in 2017 was something of a landmark, as Jon announced there would be no subsequent run of the conference in 2018, and potentially not another run at all! This led to various hallway track conversations amongst some attendees of how we might get our community tech ‘fix’ for the year in 2018, and thus the seeds of conference ideas were planted.
The next landmark event was the inspirational Meaning Conference in November 2017. A fantastic event that really aims to support, drive and provoke attendees into following pursuits with purpose and driving business in principled ways. This really distilled various thoughts around different and driven ways that technical skills and an enterprising spirit can be used to deliver positive social impact.
A parallel track over various online chat platforms and coffee conversations formed the background music to the actual physical events previously mentioned and attended. These conversations circled around the topic of ethics in tech, especially with the meteoric rise of automation, AI and ‘always-on’ devices. One area of vigorous activity, championed by Anne Currie, that seemed to validate tech interest in the area became the Ethics track at QCon and subsequent coedethics conference held in London earlier this year.
Building on the momentum and support of various groups and individuals, the ideas which would form the bedrock on which GoodTechConf would be built took shape.