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Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Unify Project, Star of Cleveland's Amazon HQ2 Bid For Some Reason, is Finally Hiring

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 2:05 PM

click to enlarge The first page of Cleveland's Amazon bid. - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • The first page of Cleveland's Amazon bid.
The Unify Project, the early-stage nonprofit-supporting nonprofit described in Cleveland's failed Amazon HQ2 bid as "the most broad-reaching effort ever mounted to use big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to end poverty" is finally hiring.

Four positions are available at the organization, which has tweaked its mission from ending poverty to "enabling sustainable upward mobility." The focus on leveraging big data, machine learning and blockchain tech to do so, however, remains intact.

Nearly a year after it was described as having assembled "the brightest minds in medicine, education and philanthropy," the Unify Project is now getting around to putting together its core team. The new employees will have as their central task building an operating system to optimize the economy.

Job descriptions for a data scientist, a simulation modeling lead, a big data engineer and a software developer are all now up on the Unify Project's website.

The job descriptions lend some insight into the Unify Project and its goals. (The Amazon bid was woefully deficient in that regard.) Here's a description of the operating system that the Unify Project intends to build:

The Unify OS will be a real world, real time analytical engine. The Unify Technology PlatformTM consists of 3 parts: UnifyDbTM, UnifyAiTM, and UnifyPnTM. UnifyDb will be an open real-time dataset containing billions of curated big data points linking social programs to individual prosperity and economic outcomes. UnifyAi will be a machine learning engine that works atop UnifyDb to measure cause & effect, greatly reduce bias, predict outcomes, and recommend high return investments. UnifyPn will be a payment network that enables controlled, transparent, and fully accountable incentives and payments via blockchain-enabled smart contracts and a renewable private cryptocurrency.
Who can say how all these dots connect? Among other questions, Scene remains unclear what — through this operating system — people will be investing in. Social programs that have proven successful? Also, how is a payment network with a renewable private cryptocurrency related to any of this?

We're content to wait and see for now, but "curated big data" and "predict[ing] outcomes" makes us, shall we say, uneasy.


If we return to the Amazon bid, we'll remember that one of the Unify Project's goals was to "shift from a charity to an investment model," in order to build an inclusive economy that empower all to live in prosperity.

We're not sure how an operating system will do that, but we look forward to finding out. At this point, we're just keeping tabs. It's important to continue to note the evolution of this organization which, before it even existed, was hailed as one of the region's top five selling points; an organization that offered Amazon the opportunity to collaborate on the "world's most ambitious urban renewal effort." 

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