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This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want. Share your voice by taking the 1-minute UN75 survey.

Technology can be—and has been—used in ways that both help and harm humanity. On the up side, advancements in digital technologies have been a huge factor in making progress on world-changing initiatives like the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. On the downside, the misuse of technology can threaten privacy, erode individual and collective security, and fuel inequalities.

How can we harness and develop digital tools that can help us create a more sustainable and equitable world? How do we weigh the risks and opportunities of technological revolutions in global health, social media, work, and data? How can we manage technology in ways that bridge the gap between the future we want and where we are currently headed?

As part of the UN's 75th anniversary, we asked individuals and organizations to join us in a Leap Day #UpChat on Twitter to discuss these questions and how we can make leaps in technology work for us all. Here are some highlights from the enlightening, informative, and inspiring discussion.

Q1: Technology can be a great equalizer. How has it been used to improve humanity?





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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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