Possible

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins on the future of social welfare

Dec. 20, 2023

What does it look like to build true access with technology? Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO and co-founder of Promise, is creating that reality. She sat down with Reid and Aria to discuss how her company is revolutionizing the way people receive welfare in its client states. By leveraging data, questioning preconceived assumptions, and focusing on eliminating bias, Promise has become a model for socially conscious business. This people-first mindset runs so deep that Promise employees personally call clients to apologize for mistakes. Phaedra also uses her high-level view of social systems and business to consider how AI could close access gaps and improve life for the most marginalized. Read the Atlantic article referenced by Phaedra here. Read the transcript of this episode here. For more info on the podcast and transcripts of all of the episodes, visit www.possible.fm/podcast. Topics: 06:24 - Hellos, intros, and a story about Prince 08:41 - How Promise resonated with investors 11:40 - What makes applying for welfare so hard? 13:54 - How Promise uses data for social good 15:40 - Why we should talk about bail reform 17:28 - Why there’s more money in enforcement than welfare 19:27 - How to work toward the ideal welfare system with technology 21:11 - Is Promise considering AI in the context of welfare reform? 25:48 - Pi weighs in on Black maternal healthcare inequity 27:03 - How can we center empathy and address bias in technology design? 33:33 - What AI companies can do to create products for more people 36:22 - How to get people onboard the movement: the Prince secret 38:36 - How to build more companies like Promise 40:25 - Rapidfire questions The award-winning Possible podcast is back with a new season that sketches out the brightest version of the future—and what it will take to get there. Most of all, it asks: what if, in the future, everything breaks humanity's way? Tune in for grounded and speculative takes on how technology—and, in particular, AI—is inspiring change and transforming the future.  This season, hosts Reid Hoffman and Aria Finger, are speaking with a new set of ambitious builders and deep thinkers about everything from art to geopolitics and from healthcare to education. These conversations also showcase another kind of guest: AI. Whether it's Inflection’s Pi, OpenAI’s ChatGPT or other AI tools, each episode will use AI to enhance and advance our discussion.  Possible is produced by Wonder Media Network and hosted by Reid Hoffman and Aria Finger. Our showrunner is Shaun Young. Possible is produced by Edie Allard, Sara Schleede, and Paloma Moreno Jiménez. Jenny Kaplan is our Executive Producer and Editor. Special thanks to Surya Yalamanchili, Saida Sapieva, Ian Alas, Greg Beato, Ben Relles, Pure Dalisay, Melanie Jones, and Little Monster Media Company.

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