June 27, 2022

NDSU student participates in forum on viewpoint diversity


Graduate student Pankaj Shah recently participated in the Forum on Viewpoint Diversity in Tech and Innovation.

NDSU graduate student Pankaj Shah participated in the Forum on Viewpoint Diversity in Tech and Innovation on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. Shah, a master’s degree student in computer science, was one of 20 students from around the world selected for the program.

The forum brought together students and professionals to discuss diverse perspectives on policy and technical questions surrounding innovations in big tech, social media policy and the future of artificial intelligence.

Shah grew up in Biratnagar, Nepal, where he worked as a software developer for four years. He said the forum introduced him to a broader set of issues concerning the future of technology.

“When I built applications, I only thought from the user perspective or the business perspective or the technicalities, but I never thought a lot about things like privacy issues,” said Shah. “Now, every time I build a new software, I will think about the policy perspective.”

Shah was encouraged to apply by Zahid Anwar, an NDSU cybersecurity professor and scholar with the Challey Institute. Anwar seeks to prepare his students for the viewpoint diversity they will encounter in the technology industry.

“Globalization is causing demographic changes in the workforce and allowing for integration of people from different countries, bringing diversity not only in religion and culture, but also in thoughts, values and attitudes. In the tech industry, this allows for a rich infusion of creative ideas vital for innovation," Anwar said.

Shah is applying these lessons during his summer internship with Codelation, a Fargo-based team of web and app builders, marketers, startup consultants and product testers who turn ideas into powerful products.

“A lot of consumers are unaware of how much data is needed for the systems to work properly. That is the reason software developers need to be ethical, because a lot of people are naïve about these kinds of things,” said Shah.

The program was co-hosted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law and Policy. The forum is part of the Mercatus Center’s larger Pluralist Lab, an effort to foster open mindedness while demonstrating how citizens can exchange ideas and coexist across philosophical differences.

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