Principals – Digital Divide Institute

Digital Divide Institute – Principals

Craig Warren Smith, Ph.D
Founder and Chairman of Digital Divide Institute

craig warren smithProfessor Craig Smith (for full bio, go here) holds concurrent academic positions in US and Asia, most recently Visiting Professor at Peking University’s Department of Information Management. Along with Doctor Ilham A. Habibie, Smith is Co-Chairman of Meaningful Broadband Indonesia, which since 2006 has advised the Republic of Indonesia on its test-market deployment of “meaningful broadband” to low-income citizens.

Along with Bill Gates, Sr., Smith is a co-founder of the international movement to close the Digital Divide. The key event that triggered that movement occurred in 1999 when they co-organized a conference called “Financial Solutions to the Digital Divide,” held at the World Trade Organization in Seattle. That event first introduced Silicon Valley CEOs to the topic and it also brought “digital divide” to the attention of leaders of the United Nations system, such as United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and leaders of UNESCO, et al. Soon afterwards, Professor Smith relocated from Seattle to New York to help establish the United Nations Task Force on Information Technology. Later, he was invited by Professor Jeff Sachs to become visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with a joint position at MIT Media Lab. In Cambridge, he created an alliance between technologists (at MIT) and public policy professors (at Harvard) to formulate the framework now presented as Meaningful Broadband as DigitalDivide.org.

As the focus of the Digital Divide movement shifted to Asia, Prof Smith was invited as a Harvard visiting professor to teach science and technology policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore. That role created a platform that led him to advise government ministers in India, Indonesia, China, and Thailand on the framework for closing Digital Divide. Located currently in Seattle, he oversees Digital Divide Institute’s test-market deployments in Asia.

Prof Smith is also a teacher of mindfulness, in both the United States and in Asia, an avocation that began in 1994 when he was a founding faculty member of Naropa University in Boulder Colorado. Combining his interest with meditation and technology he pioneered the concept of “spiritual computing,” in which technology design aligns with human development. He conducted a global lecture tour on the topic of spiritual computing in 2006, at Nokia (Helsinki), Google (Mountain View), Yahoo! (Sunnyvale), IBM-Almaden Lab (San Jose), and Microsoft Research (Seattle), (View his first lecture at Google on this theme.)


Dr. Ilham A Habibie
Executive Chairman of National ICT Council of Republic of Indonesia (WANTIKNAS)

ilham Habibie principal digital divide instituteDr. Ilham Habibie is a prominent Indonesia businessman who for a decade has collaborated with Prof Craig Warren Smith to bring Meaningful Broadband into deployment in Indonesia. Together they activated many national and international partner institutions. He is also the Chairman of BASIS (Business Alliance for Information Society), a coalition of multinational corporations focused on closing the digital divide. In 2013 he established Meaningful Broadband Kabupaten Initiative as a flagship program of Wantiknas, chaired by former Indonesian President Joko Widodo. He is the eldest son of a former Indonesian President, BJ Habibie.

The collaboration between Prof. Smith and Ilham began in 2006 and has since been formally institutionalized in Meaningful Broadband Indonesia (MBI), which links Digital Divide Institute with The Habibie Center. Created in 2015, MBI is a think tank which oversees deployment of Meaningful Broadband to 140 million low-income citizens of Indonesia.

A prominent businessman, he is Chairman of Ilthabi Rekatama, which has diversified investments in the energy and natural resources, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors. Ilham A. Habibie is a also Director of The Habibie Center, a NGO which was initiated by his father. He has positions in other non-profit organizations, including serving several years as chairman of the University of Chicago Alumni Association in Jakarta. He has received a Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from the Technical University of Munich, Germany and a MBA degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Professor Soraj Hongladarom
Chairman of Digital Divide Institute – Asia

Hongladarom - principal digital divide instituteSoraj Hongladarom is Associate Professor within the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University, where he directs one of the world’s leading institutes for ethics regarding next-generation technologies, called Center for Ethics in Science and Technology (CEST) In 2007, Prof Soraj Hongladarom, together with Dr. Charas Suwanwela, Chairman of the University Council, and Prof Craig Warren Smith, inaugurated a seminar series that explored the link between “sufficiency economy,” an ethical concept tied to the philosophy of His Majesty the King of Thailand, and broadband technology. This series of seminars led to the establishment of the Meaningful Broadband Working Group (MBWG) in Thailand, chaired by the nation’s leading governmental and business stakeholders in the telecommunications sector.

Prof Soraj and Prof Smith have collaborated in an effort to establish “broadband ethics” as a distinct new academic discipline. Soraj received his Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington, and his BA was received from Chulalongkorn University. Prof Soraj plays a leadership role in several international academic networks that explore ethical impacts of technology. He is also an expert in Buddhist epistemology and has explored the relationship between Western philosophy and traditional Buddhist ideas.