FWDThinking Episode 8: Recalibrating risk

In conversation with Nick Adams, Founder & Chief Scientist of Goodly Labs.

Published On Mar 1, 2021

All opinions expressed in in these episodes are personal and do not reflect the opinions of the organizations for which our guests work.


Nick Adams describes himself as a parallel, rather than serial, entrepreneur. He started his work in public service as a campaign manager, hoping to go into politics himself. But Nick quickly realized he could do more good focusing on technology.

One of the big challenges governments have is listening to their citizens at scale. Major input into policies comes once every four years as part of the electoral cycle. But a cohort of new founders and startups—Kialo, Pol.is, Society Library, and Nick’s initiative, Public Editor, aim to address creeping disinformation and the challenges of finding consensus.

Nick’s initial foray into learning at scale came from trying to analyze the Occupy movement. He needed a way to wade through thousands of documents from organizers, law enforcement, and the many organizations involved in occupations throughout the US. He incubated Goodly Labs at Berkeley, and their motto could scarcely be more aligned with our own: Building “Technology of, by, and for the people,” they “equip individuals with collaborative tools for building a better society.”

In this episode of FWDThinking, Nick and I discuss how leaders can better understand what societies are saying; how to tackle the asymmetric threat of fake news with the wisdom of crowds; and whether technology has rendered representation obsolete. Nick will also be speaking at FWD50 this November.