5 Key Takeaways from the GSV Leaders Summit
In Washington D.C., one day after the impeachment vote, the GSV Leaders Summit: Bending The Arc of Human Potential gathered leaders from ed-tech, venture capital, nonprofit, higher education and philanthropy across ideological lines to re-imagine the future of work and explore new solutions.
The event was led by GSV Ventures, a new-economy venture fund that partners with entrepreneurs who are fueling the $7 trillion learning and talent technology sector. In a term coined by Managing Partner Deb Quazzo, GSV works with innovators across the global “preK to Gray” education landscape to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the future.
At the event, each of us set our agendas aside to boldly explore fresh, new ideas. Rather than advocate on behalf of our professional interests, the summit created a culture that favored collaboration, brainstorming and problem-solving. We explored key takeaways, including:
- Most attendees’ views around education were more united than they were divided.
- Many of us are focused on the challenge of developing solutions to make education more affordable and equitable.
- That being said, some of the big ideas around the student debt crisis have generated unintended consequences– negatively impacting the students who are the focus of these very solutions. Tom Woolf, the Founder and CEO of EdAid: an authorized platform focused on driving access to education, pointed to the current figuration of Income-Share Agreementsas an example of a concept that has essentially doubled the cost of education for a low-income student compared to their wealthy student counterparts.
- Our conversation often focused on how we can create a common language and standard metrics to better consolidate our work and serve the best interests of the learners whom we all want to succeed.
- Most importantly, I was reminded that, in a room of influential stakeholders, thought leaders and policymakers, it is critical to include people who are most impacted by the problem in the conversation. We need students, unemployed folks and low-income workers to push our thinking, validate new concepts, share in the benefits and shape the future in a way that complements — rather than dismantles — their own work.
During the summit, I was reminded of Harvard Professor David Deming’s haunting words:
“Americans are worried that technology will soon replace much of the work done by humans, and they are right to be.
Yet the danger we are facing isn’t really about technology. It’s about politics and economic fairness.Whether the pain and the benefits of artificial intelligence are equitably distributed — and whether the turmoil that is still to come will be viewed as an overall social good — will depend on our political will.”
These words felt viscerally present throughout the Summit. Do we have the political will to work across lines? How will we add extra seats at our leadership table to do what is best for students… for workers … for our country? These are the questions I’m taking into my own work this year, working with XPRIZE partners to convene diverse, creative groups to explore how we can catalyze political will and incentivize togetherness. I left the event inspired by the sage advice of one of GSV’s keynote speakers, former Secretary of State Colin Powell:
● Have perpetual optimism; it can be done
● It ain’t as bad as you think it is … it will look better in the morning
● Failure is a part of life — you can’t go through life without failing
On the road to ensuring equity, we may and probably will make mistakes. But we have to act, embrace emerging technologies, and work together to create a more equitable, just future. With shared will and perpetual optimism … it can be done.