The need for Techonomy’s dialogues has become almost ridiculously obvious. Just read the headlines.
When we started our conference and publishing business seven years ago, we knew that a huge challenge for leaders and citizens would be adapting to and taking advantage of the extraordinary changes brought by technology and connectedness. But it was a tough sell back to say that all leaders had to care about such things. Now, if you don’t see that tech is transforming business and society, you’re wearing blinders. Every executive is on notice.
The news every day shows tech further becoming a central, transformative force in business and society. And we’re proud to say that the Techonomy 2017 conference in California November 5-7 is already packed with programming that puts what’s happening into a clearer light.
We’ll have experts in blockchains, privacy, security, Facebook, media, and retail on our stage (along with CEOs of some of the world’s most important companies and tons of tech thinkers and innovators). If you’re interested in joining us, request an invitation here.
You might have recently seen this excellent set of articles from The Financial Times‘s Rana Foroohar about “the power of the tech titans.” (If you can’t get through the paywall, try searching for that phrase on Google first.) We’ve been talking to Rana about this for some time, and share many of her concerns. And we have our own TE17 session planned called Reckoning with the New Hegemonists. It’s a continuation of one we had last year called Internet Giants and the World.
The consequences of the domination of communication, and increasingly culture, by a small number of companies is underscored by this week’s news about Facebook, which conceded that Russian agents bought advertising that promoted false and divisive news to Americans during the presidential election. This dialogue got a big start at Techonomy 2016 when Mark Zuckerberg said on stage that “The idea that fake news on Facebook…influenced the election in any way, I think is a pretty crazy idea.” The discussion entered new territory this week when Senator Mark Warner called for new legislation to require companies like Facebook to disclose how political spending happens there. Never before has a serious call been made for Congress to create legislation to regulate the tech giants.
A very good piece of tech-related news and reporting came out of The Wall Street Journal this week when it published Workers: Fear Not the Robot Apocalypse, a well-reported argument that the net effect of automation is to create jobs, not destroy them, even as the opposite view has recently led to much hand-wringing. We don’t claim a crystal ball, but that’s why we have our own session to explore this at Techonomy 2017 entitled The Uncertain, Unstable, Changing Nature of Work. Being part of it will make us all smarter on this super-vexing subject. (We tackled this in our latest Techonomy Magazine in a piece called Robots are Coming for Your Tasks, Not Your Jobs.)
The Equifax hack is almost certainly going to lead to new legislation. Expect Major League Baseball to come down on the Boston Red Sox for how they used Apple Watches to break the rules. The movie industry will continue to suffer the consequences of users wanting to know how movies are rated.
We always said that in any industry, you need to know how other industries are being altered by connectedness and tech, because there will inevitably be lessons for you. It’s all the more true now, and it’s a good part of how we program our extraordinary upcoming conference.
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David Kirkpatrick is Chief Techonomist.