I am a finalist at the University of Nottingham with an offer to study for the MSc in Applied Social Data Science at the London School of Economics (LSE) this September (2020). This unique course will allow me to investigate poverty alleviation techniques as economies transition through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is characterised by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G that offer opportunities to accelerate human development, particularly for the poorest.
During an economics internship with a government department, it became clear that the conventional economics toolkit is limited when it comes to shaping policy. Although it facilitates the analysis required to predict whether policy A or policy B would be better for the economy or society, it doesn't necessarily tell us what policy A or policy B should consist of.
For example, one of the best ways to improve education outcomes in Kenya is to provide free school uniforms, whereas providing free textbooks has a limited effect. Economics identifies which of the two is more effective, but how would one know to test the effect of free school uniforms, i.e. the less intuitive solution?
My concern is that poverty alleviation techniques offered through the emergence of advanced technologies will be overlooked in favour of their applications for private gain, which could exacerbate inequality. One importance of social data science is that it provides the computational tools to identify what a policy should consist of in a world with an increasing amount of data, produced by all of us when we use our mobile phones.
Just three universities in the UK offer this course, and fortunately I've been offered a place at one. The less fortunate news is that it's expensive. Taking into account my savings from work, scholarship and a master's loan, I'm still £9,998 short of being able to attend. This may sound like a lot, but if everyone in my local neighbourhood donated £1, the target would be exceeded. My hope is that the generosity of you, the online community, will help me to reach the LSE, one small donation at a time.
Thank you in advance for your support.