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Silicon Valley faces a revolt after losing public trust

2017-5-18 06:22| 发布者: 岁月如歌| 查看: 108| 评论: 0

摘要: A backlash against Big Tech is gathering momentum, propelled by Silicon Valley’s clumsy mistakes. The stereotype is shifting from plucky Californian underdog to faceless, malevolent behemoth.From ter ...
A backlash against Big Tech is gathering momentum, propelled by Silicon Valley’s clumsy mistakes. The stereotype is shifting from plucky Californian underdog to faceless, malevolent behemoth.

From terrorist content, sexism claims and trolls to mind-reading privacy invasion, unpaid tax and robots taking jobs, the charge sheet is growing rapidly. Technology executives risk attracting an opprobrium that is traditionally reserved for bankers. Stories have emerged of tech billionaires building bunkers in New Zealand to hedge against a revolt by the 99 per cent.

Until recently, the technology sector has been more trusted than any other. In the latest Edelman annual survey, 76 per cent of people trust technology companies, compared with about 60 per cent for most industries and 54 per cent for finance.

That trust underpins Silicon Valley’s economic miracle almost as much as the technology. The halo of pioneering innovation for the advancement of humankind — embodied by Apple’s “think different” slogan and Google’s “don’t be evil” motto (now abandoned) — makes consumers feel good.

The value at stake for Big Tech is enormous. According to McKinsey research, 30 per cent of corporate earnings are dependent on relationships with stakeholders such as governments, non-governmental organisations and activists. Uber and Airbnb’s valuations (and the viability of the “sharing economy”) are predicated on their ability to win political arguments, city by city, all over the world. Stroke-of-the-pen regulatory risk has become tap-of-the-tweet roulette in the political climate.

The stakes are as high for society. We need tech companies to help solve the world’s most costly problems, from climate change and conflict to obesity, illiteracy and smoking. That will not happen if Silicon Valley fails to address people’s concerns and loses the social licence to operate.

Arresting the trust deficit will not be easy. Society is not homogenous and it is impossible to please all people, all the time. Take Apple, which — bravely in my view — took sides in the stand-off between consumer privacy and national security at the cost of strained governmental relationships.

To connect with society, companies must integrate social issues deeply into their everyday strategy and operations. Corporate social responsibility is dead. Along with its younger sibling “sustainability”, CSR has failed to bridge the chasm between corporations and society because they are often fundamentally disconnected from the core business model.

Instead, technology needs to engage radically with society, on society’s terms. That means starting a public conversation about the ethics of disruptive technologies, without propaganda or corporate spin — if companies feel comfortable they are not doing public engagement right.

Complacency prevented scientists from having an open dialogue about genetically modified food in Europe. GM food is now banned across the continent, at great cost to business and society. Technology risks the same outcome with artificial intelligence and neural engineering.

Less than a third of companies believe they employ the talent required to engage society effectively. Chief executives often feel completely unprepared by their traditional business training to deal with politicians or non-governmental organisations.

But Big Tech needs to define its contribution to society with much greater clarity. New technology has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on society. For that to continue, tech businesses must convince the world that our purpose extends beyond chasing unicorn valuations.

The writer, a technology entrepreneur, co-authored ‘Connect: How Companies Succeed by Engaging Radically With Society’

针对科技巨擘(Big Tech)的抗议正在增多,硅谷笨拙的错误加剧了这种趋势。对科技公司的刻板印象正从加州无畏的弱者,变成面目模糊的恶毒巨兽。



这种信任对硅谷经济奇迹的支撑作用,几乎跟技术的支撑作用一样大。为促进人类进步而开拓创新,这种光环让消费者感觉良好,这种创新体现在苹果的箴言“非同凡响”(think different)上,也体现在谷歌(Google)的箴言“不作恶”(don’t be evil,现在已被抛弃)上。









本文作者是科技创业家,与人合著了《连接:企业如何通过积极与社会接触取得成功》(Connect: How Companies Succeed by Engaging Radically With Society)一书







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