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Why We’re #ThankfulForSoftware

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to reflect on what we’re thankful for. At BSA, our first answer is always software. We never cease to be amazed by how software improves our lives, both on a personal level and as a global community.

One of the most impactful ways software helps others is by making everyday life more accessible.

  • Ian Mackay is an outdoor enthusiast who was paralyzed from the shoulders down after a bicycling crash in 2008. Using Apple’s Switch Control software, Mackay can operate his iPhone hands-free using a switch near his mouth to navigate the GPS or call someone for help. This feature gave him the confidence to explore trails independently again.
  • Microsoft’s Seeing AI project uses an AI camera app and cloud computing to tell visually impaired users about their surroundings. For example, if a user takes a picture of her friend, the app describes the friend’s appearance, facial expression, gender, age, and distance from the camera.

Software also drives positive changes on a global scale, by helping us tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.

  • More than half of the wells in sub-Saharan Africa fail after only a few years, causing a water shortage for rural communities. IBM is using the Internet of Things to confront this problem. By connecting sensors to the wells and tracking groundwater, weather data, and each well’s popularity, they can evaluate wells in real-time and save them before they fail.
  • A pharmaceutical company in Salt Lake City is working to discover new treatments for 100 genetic diseases by 2025. To do so, researchers rely on Splunk machine learning software to analyze data from tens of thousands of cell cultures and trillions of DNA strands, leading to faster results.
  • Many UK water companies are changing their wastewater treatment standards to protect ecosystems and the wildlife living there. ANSYS simulation software lets them cost-effectively and quickly design new eco-friendly treatment plants.

These are just a few examples of software changing and improving our lives, in ways big and small. I encourage you to share how software impacts you and your loved ones using #ThankfulForSoftware on social media, and follow us for even more inspiring stories.

Happy Thanksgiving from BSA!

Victoria Espinel


Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of the BSA Foundation. is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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