Last year, {Code for Asia} started assembling talents that came through #codeathon through a CodeNomad bootcamp and you can catch a glimpse of it below:

Since then, our alumni has continued coding and organising their local communities.

EDvengers Assemble

Bok Woon, Dana and Raeveen from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia respectively started development on EDvengers to power our efforts at scaling regionally through an all-in-one hackathon management + learning + community development platform.

Bok Woon and Raeveen were working on it for a bit, then the database was all messed up, then Dana and Raeveen started from scratch and deployed EDvengers in time for #codeathonX in Surabaya over April 20-21 while Raeveen was in Japan.

It was absolutely fascinating for me to watch how developers can develop bonds instantly over discussing database schematics.

Or how this was how the landing page got made.

While Dana and his Google Developer Student Club team in Surabaya impacted hundreds of university students in Politeknik NSC, Universitas Maarif Hasyim Latif and University of Trunojoyo Madura by providing hands-on workshops in Google cloud technologies, mixed reality and machine learning, I was in Jakarta for a ChangemakerXchange Network Summit and swung by Surabaya to share my thoughts on “A.I.: Good or Evil?”.

A one sentence summary of what I spoke about is simply that: A.I. is a tool, it is good for specific purposes and can be marred by biases and is far from the sort of general intelligence that human beings possess for now, and it can be a force for good or for evil depending on the uses that humans put it to; so let’s use it for good.

Of Inclusion

After a brief adventure across Java visiting Bandung and Surabaya for the first time, Dana and I flew into Kuala Lumpur to launch and support #codeathonX together with University of Malaya’s App Club. Before the weekend hackathon over April 11-12, an a.i. and machine learning workshop was held on April 3 to a full-house audience despite the rain and jam as well. Interestingly, about half of #codeathonX participants were taking part in a hackathon for the first time which proves that with the right effort and messaging, we can include more newbies and diversify the pool of people in technology. And inclusion is important because I believe that we already have all the skills and resources we need to truly tackle mankind’s greatest challenges in poverty alleviation and sustainable development but… We need to give as many people a fair opportunity to succeed as possible and have more diverse voices on the table.

Indeed, the team that emerged glorious was made up of a seasoned hackathon veteran and 4 other first-timers. Check out how Skysolar is using machine learning (enabled by plenty of human labelling) to increase solar panel adoption rates here. The {Code for Asia} team is super excited about welcoming selected talents for our upcoming CodeNomad in Hangzhou already!

In retrospective though, the support resources we had in-place were totally inadequate for an audience that is half newbies and we hope to make marked improvements on this in the next semester. Do get in touch if you’d like to support the upcoming September/October regional #codeathonX series!

Of Diversity

I did not notice it previously, but going from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur was a very interesting experience just taking in the differences in population composition, infrastructure, and so on. When I was traveling around Jakarta-Bandung-Surabaya, I pretty much felt like the only Chinese person around. Wifi feels a lot more reliable once I’m in Malaysia though for both countries with a tourist SIM watching YouTube videos on the go is absolutely effortless. Yet connectivity cannot be taken for granted for local Indonesians — I was shocked to learn previously that always-on broadband connection is not considered a commodity in an average Indonesian home even as it is now commonplace in most Chinese villages; I had this discussion with our developers in Bandung about how the Prep Junior game is not displaying correctly on some Apple devices and that’s a problem because lots of people are on Apple… At the ChangemakerXchange Network Summit that I was at while in Indonesia, only 2 out of the about 15 people present were Android users.

The simplest argument for diversity is then that no one person can claim to represent all possible realities and perspectives, though of course there might also be a limit to how much diversity there is that can be realistically incorporated into any collective or group… But this goes back to my earlier point about how I think as a human race, we have all that we need; what’s lacking is the currency of trust and a distribution mechanism that is more fair and just, that even billionaires are now realising to be in deficit.

Of Systems Change

Prior to the Network Summit, Irsyad (an incoming ChangemakerXchange participant), Jiezhen and myself (both ChangemakerXchange alumni and part of the ChangemakerXchange China 2018 and 2019 organising team) had started engaging possible partners in a bid to organise China summits for the long haul year after year, and that has somehow culminated into an evolving, multi-stakeholder mega collaboration which we hope can move the needle on Singaporean youths’ regional engagement meaningfully as part of a government co-creation initiative that was recently unveiled – the SG Youth Action Plan.

We’ve had some very interesting preliminary discussions with Enterprise SG, National Youth Council, Senior Minister of State Ms. Sim Ann and of course our fellow young founder friends in Actxplorer, Ashoka Singapore, bantu, Bold at Work, GivFunds, The Hidden Good, The Maju Collective and Young Sustainable Impact SEA.

Get in touch with me if you’d like to be involved or support our initiative in any way.

A Generation of Youths Embracing Technology and Creating Positive Change

Now, as our team occupies ourselves with the preparation of ChangemakerXchange (May 24-28) and CodeNomad (May 24-30) happening in parallel in Hangzhou, what I am especially excited about is bringing these 2 different groups together for the first time in-person in a part of the world that is changing by the day.

What will happen 10 years from now, after 10 tech-oriented youths from around ASEAN first hear pitches by 20 top, young social innovators that were painstakingly selected from an initial pool of 761 applicants? It’s hard to tell right now what future picture these dots will lead forward to, but they will somehow connect backwards, that I am sure of.

Thank you!

The #codeathon and CodeNomad series of events would not have been possible without the wonderful support of our partners new and old below, in alphabetical order:

  • Asean Youth Community
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Devpost
  • EPIC
  • Google DSC Surabaya
  • LEAD
  • Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre
  • National Youth Council
  • NOS Accelerator
  • Pinkcollar
  • Prep Ventures Pte Ltd
  • Rakuten RapidAPI
  • University of Malaya
  • Virtualahan

Thank you all for believing in us!

Categories: Uncategorized


Leave a Reply