Technology is woven into every aspect of our society and promises to unlock human potential in ways that seemed impossible mere decades ago. Yet this rapid transformation has far outpaced government service provision, regulation, legal jurisdiction, public understanding and corporate norms, leaving us all exposed to unchecked harms.

The field draws from those with top technological expertise, such as engineers and computer scientists, who also have understanding of the core ethical, legal, policy and societal dimensions of technological change. This distinguishes these technologists from those with engineering or computer science training alone.

PIT seeks to solve public problems, design policy and legislation, and make government services more efficient and effective in a just and equitable way through the application of best practices from technological fields (such as human-centered design, product development, process re-engineering and data science).

Right now technological expertise is concentrated in the private sector rather than well-represented in government and civil society, leaving the voice of the public insufficiently represented.

Without considering the public interest implications, technology is used in ways that undermine privacy, equality and free expression, and nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of defending and expanding our basic rights and freedoms need the technological expertise to face these challenges.

For society to fully benefit from the power of technology while offsetting its harms, academia, the private sector, government and nonprofits will need to infuse PIT throughout all four sectors.