Building tech for good

Technology is an excellent amplifier of existing human intent and capacity. Through my travels across rural India, I have met countless hardworking, talented and skilled people. I am currently focused on helping these people defeat extreme poverty by giving them access to dignified digital work .

In 2017, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. At Stanford, I co-founded CS+Social Good, Stanford's first student group focused on the intersection of tech and impact. I led, taught and advised classes on tech for good in Stanford's CS department. More on that below!

Lecturer, Stanford University

I co-founded CS+Social Good to change the conversation about Computer Science on Stanford campus and gear it towards social impact. As a part of the movement, I lectured several tech for good courses in Stanford's Computer Science Department.
Read more about CS+Social Good here or watch the video Stanford shot for the class!

Project Janta

When I moved back to India to work on tackling extreme poverty, I expected it to be harrowing. Mainstream media (within India and especially, abroad) paints such a bleak picture of India ~ as if nothing good has ever happened or will ever happen in India. I expected to feel jaded at the lack of progress. To be disappointed at the lack of good work happening on the ground.

Obviously, the opposite happened. Every single village I visited blew me away. The more I traveled within India, the more optimistic I became. Over a thousand villages later, I can confidently say that there’s an *insane* amount of good work happening on the ground. I have personally met countless young and old Indians who are fighting the good fight, refusing to give up on India and in turn, serving millions of people. And not surprisingly, I realized that most Indians didn’t know these stories.

Most Indians don’t know about Bunker Roy’s miracle work in Tilonia (he helped move 3 million women out of poverty by making them solar engineers) or Dr. George’s amazing work in building Shanti Bhavan (an incredible school in Bangalore that serves the most underserved communities in our country). Most Indians don’t know about Kaan Khajura Tesan, a missed-call based radio station that has over 60 million daily listeners in Bihar and Jharkhand (the world’s largest radio station). The station provides free health and farming advice sprinked between soap detergent ads and the latest Bollywood songs! Digital Green (a movement that has helped 1.5 million farmers in India), Kudumbashree (a women’s empowerment group that has changed 5 million lives)... The list is endless.

Stories of hope and progress are not rare in rural or urban India. In fact, they are more of a norm. My personal vision with Project Janta is to help Indians see the real India. To recognize and learn from the phenomenal work that is already happening within our country. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with our country, I want to focus on people trying to fix those wrongs.

Read positive, heartwarming stories from rural India here

Travel

I absolutely love traveling and I have been very fortunate to travel to some of the remotest, most stunning corners of our world. Below, you will see some of my favorite shots from exploring the gorgeous landscape of rural India. Keep up with my travels on my Instagram here.

Projects

Check out some of the projects I have worked on in the past below!

Anti-Molestation Device

In high school, I invented an anti-molestation device for women as an answer to increasing rape cases in India. I was awarded by the Indian President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam and nominated among India’s 20 Most Brilliant Minds Under 20 by Times Of India.

You can see more about the device on CNN India here. (Link only works in India) or read about it on BBC here.

Narada

As of 2016, over a billion Indians own cell phones but signal connectivity and access to Internet are still big problems. It's not uncommon to hear stories of Indian villagers traveling tens of kilometers everyday just to get a signal on their phones.'Narad' aims to fix this problem. See the hack in action here.

The hack won the 1st prize in the Public Service category in Microsoft's global oneWeek hackathon.

Machine Learning Research And Hacks

At Stanford, I majored in Computer Science with a focus in Artificial Intelligence. Over my 4 years at Stanford, I published quite a few research papers on using state of the art machine learning algorithms to understand imagined speech ( Imagined Speech refers to the process in which a subject imagines speaking a given word without moving any muscle or sound. The ability to understand imagined speech fundamentally changes the way we interact with our devices ), to identify if a person is lying or not using their EEG scans, to accurately identify plant species given an image of a leaf and to accurately search for objects and moments within videos.

See a magical demo of inVideo Search here. The hack won the top prize in the GreyLock Hackfest. You can read our paper on understanding and classifying Imagined Speech here.

Tech For Good Work Across the Globe

In the past few years, I have travelled to Japan and China for engineering projects. I have also taught Computer Science to kids in Jharkhand, India, worked with nonprofits in Kano, Nigeria to motivate healthcare workers and in Chongqing, China to engineer better sanitation and transport systems. I have also worked with private clinics in India on Tuberculosis medicine and improving adherence rate for existing TB medication. This work was a part of the incredible 99DOTS mission.

Through CS 50 (the class I started at Stanford), I worked on tech for good projects in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, America (Bay Area, NYC), Bangladesh, Brazil, India (Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Delhi), Rwanda and several countries in the Middle East and North African region. You can see of these projects in action in the CS 50 class trailer here. (desktop/PC only)

Get in touch!

I am currently focused on tackling extreme poverty using tech and I would love to figure out ways we can work together! Please reach out to me at mchopra [at] cs.stanford.edu