Technical Fellow, Plaintext

The Plaintext Group is a technologist-first, tech policy research and advocacy initiative within Schmidt Futures. We believe that technical experts are crucial to address the technical problems at the core of the most pressing global policy challenges. One of our key focus areas is US/China tech competition, which includes determining what types of strategic investments will help strengthen democratic platforms, how to approach decoupling thoughtfully, what it will take to bolster American resilience to cyber threats, and how to surface and communicate broader insights to inform the discourse.


The role 

Reporting to the Research Lead of the Plaintext Group, the Technical Fellow will be a “computer science + policy” expert responsible for building the China team within a next-generation technology policy group.

The Technical Fellow’s role will include:

  • Directing our research on how democracies should respond to the rise of China as a technological peer competitor
  • Managing a subteam of research analysts to produce tech policy products that drive decisions by policymakers and philanthropies


Key responsibilities 

Lead idea development 

  • Lead our China research efforts: Manage a team of colleagues and drive forward projects focused on Chinese tech competition issues
  • Identify topics for impact: The China lead will work with people who are the audience for our work (e.g., decision makers in policy and philanthropy) to identify the most important topics for public sector intervention; and work with the academic community to source topics that would otherwise not make it to the policy discussion
  • Produce cutting-edge policy research: Write analyses with actionable outcomes in mind (e.g. policy actions / grants / legislation)

Drive action through research, advocacy, convening, grantmaking

  • Educate and inform key decision-makers: At Schmidt Futures, we drive direct impact through grantmaking and building extended networks. Workstream leads are responsible for bringing the best ideas to the table for high-leverage decision-makers
  • Work with the best people: Collaborate with a team of leading subject-matter experts at the intersection of tech and policy, both within the team and throughout the Schmidt Futures network


Knowledge, skills, and abilities

Some of the desired capabilities include:

  • Strong technical literacy: Candidates must be fluent in various computing topics and have deep expertise in at least one focus area The role will not involve coding, so detailed knowledge at the implementation level of engineering systems is unnecessary, but candidates will need to “know what they don’t know” and whom to ask about it. (Example: Ability to follow the latest AI research developments and understand the potential use cases they enable)
  • High-level policy opportunity identification and curation: Candidates must have the strategic acumen to parse dense technical literature into actionable policy insights and effectively tailor those recommendations to specific audiences
  • Excellent communication and teamwork: Candidates must have a track record of excellent teamwork and a demonstrated ability to communicate complex technical ideas to non-technical stakeholders
  • Comfort in ambiguous, unstructured environments: Building something new comes with significant ambiguity, and we want people that can thrive in that ambiguity. The environment is highly dynamic, and there are few precedents



Applicants must have:

  • Deep knowledge of the Chinese technology landscape including knowledge of key companies and players and a nuanced understanding of current trends
  • Comfort sourcing technical ideas from technical people ideally from a strong personal network and the ability to engage deeply on technical details
  • Ability to generate tangible recommendations to advance the US/China relationship with the ability to provide practical solutions rather than broad suggestions
  • Project management skills with the ability to organize effectively and drive progress in ambiguous situations in a fast-paced environment
  • Experience applying metrics and objective-driven approaches to solving problems using frameworks such as OKRs to measure progress toward ambitious goals
  • Entrepreneurial mindset with experience building something from the ground up (e.g., a new team at your job, an event) is something we value enormously
  • Be based at the Schmidt Futures offices in NY or DC and be able to travel within the U.S. and internationally on a regular basis as needed following company policy and permitting circumstances


About Schmidt Futures 

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that finds exceptional people and helps them do more for others together.  We knit talent into networks, bet on the most promising ideas through diverse forms of competition and support, and equip people to scale through partners and modern tools. To realize this vision, Schmidt Futures uses a broad set of tools — including gifts, grants, investments, and startup activity — for charitable, educational, and commercial efforts with a public purpose. Our initiative brings together the efforts of various charitable and non-charitable entities to improve our potential impact by making diverse types of capital available to the efforts we support.

Futures Action Network, LLC, which operates Schmidt Futures, is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer that proudly pursues and hires a diverse workforce. We do not make hiring or employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion or religious belief, ethnic or national origin, nationality, sex, gender, gender-identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, military or veteran status, or any other basis protected by applicable local, state, or federal laws or prohibited by Company policy. We strive for a healthy and safe workplace and strictly prohibit harassment of any kind.