Three Takes on How Tech Can Rebuild Trust in 2018

Rounding out our series of perspectives and prognostications for the new year, we asked people in Xconomy’s network about trust in the tech industry.

Specifically, if you think public perception about the tech industry took a turn for the worse in 2017, what should the industry do to rebuild trust in 2018?

Here are responses from three innovation leaders in the Seattle area:

Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington, and an Xconomist: “Just to be provocative: Seattle tech looks great, but Silicon Valley tech looks like one big frat house. Nationally, people equate Silicon Valley with tech, so we’re all tarred with that brush.

“Seattle: [Microsoft President] Brad Smith is a saint—the principled conscience of the entire industry. Folks like Rich Barton at Zillow and Glenn Kelman at Redfin are not far behind. Small companies like TUNE are taking bold steps to further diversity and civic engagement. Hadi Partovi, with Code.org, has dramatically moved the needle on K-12 computer science; all prior efforts had fallen flat by comparison. Dara Khosrowshahi has done a remarkable job of mucking out the stables at Uber. I could go on and on.

“Silicon Valley: The reality in the past year makes the TV show look tame. … To my point about the Bay Area: Note [a recent] NY Times article about ‘good deeds in tech in 2017.’ Almost none of the positive things he cites are from the Bay Area.”

Kieran Snyder, co-founder and CEO, Textio: “In a very real way, press last summer about sexual harassment and assault in the tech industry led the way in unearthing this behavior everywhere: in tech, and also in government, media, art, and more. I don’t know that a single year is enough time for the tech industry to rebuild trust broadly, but we can make a start by holding offenders accountable and by hiring and promoting more women into leadership positions.”

Greg Bear, science fiction author: “There definitely seems to be backlash to Trump/Russia, Russian fake news, and Internet trolling, and to the open dialog/anonymous standards of many media giants. Anonymity might have to go soon to restore any faith, and to balance bad actors with responsibility and exposure.”

Photo credit: Photo by Emily Morter via Unsplash  

[Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts sharing thoughts from technology leaders about 2017 trends and 2018 forecasts.]

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