The tech industry needs to move towards responsible innovation in 2018

The tech industry needs to move towards responsible innovation in 2018
From TechCrunch - December 22, 2017

For over a decade now, Silicon Valley ideology has been to simultaneously:

Move fast and break things.

Make the world a better place.

Our communityentrepreneurs and investors alikehave had a sense of manifest destiny to move humanity forward with our work. Somewhere along the way however, making the world a better place became more of a punchline than an ethos, and breaking things has become what we are best known for outside Silicon Valley.

To that end, 2017 has been a demoralizing year. While our product innovations have built accessible and affordable content, community and commerce on top of a thriving deregulated and open internet, they have also been weaponized against society by bad actors. Social media became a vector of bullying and propaganda. Algorithms meant to personalize experiences have ended up amplifying bias. Personal data has been compromised in ways that we dont even fully understand yet.

Whats worse is that as our industry has gained influence and power, we have also become plagued with sexual harassment scandals on top of a persistent lack of diversity. This is not unique to our industry but it adds significantly to perception that we are all bad actors. This is really painful to see especially when I step foot in other parts of the country and describe what I do.

Further, there is another dynamic emerging where Congress is feeling threatened by the growing power of the businesses that we bring to the world. There is a growing bipartisan support for increased regulation of internet companies. The current administration has tussled with tech and investors over the International Entrepreneur Rule and other visa and immigration points. The level playing field weve enjoyed with net neutrality is about to disappear under current FCC leadership.

Right now, the relationship between tech and regulators is reading somewhere between strained and adversarial. My worry is that regulation destroys the ability to innovate. We regulated electricity in the early 20th century and it has significantly contributed to climate change. If we regulated technology (and AI is the electricity of the 21st century in many ways), we will create other large issues for ourselves.

Where do we go from here?

Taking ownership in 2018


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