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‘The Time Is Now for Tech to Grow up’ says BIMA Co-President Natalie Gross


Between the Cambridge Analytics scandal and the climate crisis, tech needs to ditch the complacency

‘The Time Is Now for Tech to Grow up’ says BIMA Co-President Natalie Gross

One of the most exciting things about working in tech is the incredible pace at which we evolve, but that leaves little time for reflection. How often do we stop to consider the impact of our work outside of its own, often isolated, context?

We are in the privileged position of shaping the future and we need to do so responsibly, ethically, and progressively. It’s time to look at the big picture because, as we’re being reminded daily, actions have consequences. Tech is a great enabler but it also is creating a mounting number of challenges for us socially, in the environment, and in politics (just as a start).

The last year alone has been tough to say the least, and a wake up call that none of us can be complacent. It started with the scandal that brought down Cambridge Analytica. That investigation opened our eyes to what had been happening to our data while we posted those endless selfies and how our democratic processes are being interfered with. Subsequent and repeated data hacks across numerous platforms forced us to understand how fragile our privacy really is, and Silicon Valley leaders were called to testify before congressional and parliamentary committees - for the first time governments seemed to grasp the immensity of what had been happening under their watch.

And yet, it was social media that helped accelerate Greta Thunberg’s climate strike into a global movement in a matter of months. The same is true for March for Our Lives, the student-led anti-gun violence movement in the US. Media outlets are starting to collaborate with online platforms to tackle the dissemination of fake news. Electronic mobility may be cluttering our city streets right now, but it’s getting people on the move and off overcrowded public transport. Thanks to tech, we are on track to find a cure for malaria, AI is revolutionising the way we work, and digital careers are opening untold opportunities for young people - opportunities they themselves will ultimately create.

But how do we make sense of it and ensure that we learn lessons and harness the most positive elements of tech? More than any other industry, technology creates the future. So, for those of us who create that tech the question must be, what sort of future do we want to create? The future is in our hands, so let’s make it a good one.

Lessons from the Future, BIMA’s one-day conference examining the implications of our technological future takes place on 18 September in London. Tickets are available here.

Natalie Gross, BIMA co-President and Managing Partner, TH_NK

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BIMA, Thu, 12 Sep 2019 15:03:42 GMT