While it’s important not to equate new technology advances with innovation writ large, we need to be even more cautious of being afraid of technology, Chris Elias of PATH told a Seattle crowd of about 400 global health leaders, ag experts and journalists last week.

The event, hosted by Global Washington, focused on technology’s impact on global development. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah opened the event by underscoring the Obama administration’s commitment to addressing extreme poverty worldwide. In addition to a “moral imperative,” he rooted this effort as an “enlightened self-interest” of U.S. national security. He also reiterated the need to shift to an evidence-based and results-oriented approach.

With a powerhouse of speakers — including Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash), and local leaders from philanthropy, education, and business — the conversation ran the gamut from food security and global health to entrepreneurship and foreign aid.

As a collector of liberal arts degrees, I applaud this big tent approach — we need to harness all the talent and creativity on hand to deal with today’s global issues. The event itself, with its rock star roster of public, private and academic leaders, illustrated the dynamic potential of cross-sector engagement.

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