Here’s Why I’m Excited About Techonomy NYC

By  |  April 19, 2019, 5:41 PM


At Techonomy we have a point of view. At our upcoming New York conference, we plan to suffuse you in it. We believe tech has, in some key ways, gone off the rails, and that every company and every leader has to be thoughtful about why, and what can be done. But also we still believe that the intentional use of tech can work near-miracles.

“Will tech be a unifier or a divider? That to me is the fundamental question,” said Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s COO and CTO, on a prep call for her appearance Tuesday May 14. You will be blown away, if you come to Techonomy NYC, by her blunt and uncompromising vision of our collective responsibility as technologists and businesspeople.

“We ask in every RFP to a third party that they describe their own efforts in accessibility–their compliance with the Americans with Disability Act. We ask that every piece of software they provide to our firm be designed to a triple A standard of accessibility. You would be stunned how many cannot or do not answer,” says Bessant.

“And then with 5G [wireless technology] in education,” she said in another part of the conversation. “Will it be just for those with money and resources? Will the schools that utilize it just be schools with money and donors? Or will it be in our Title One schools where our most needy children are? That’s fundamental to whether our education system is a unifier or a divider.”

You see what I mean. And lest you see Bessant as an outlier, in our crowd she isn’t. We open the conference with Scott Heiferman, creator of Meetup, in a session called “Technologies of Togetherness.” He has very thoughtful views about how we need to think about tech and keep it from harming society. He’ll be followed by Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, one of the country’s leading thinkers about inclusion and how tech can better serve all of us.

The second day opens with author Doug Rushkoff, whose new book Team Human begins this way: “Autonomous technologies, runaway markets, and weaponized media seem to have overturned civil society, paralyzing our ability to think constructively, connect meaningfully, or act purposefully. It feels as if civilization itself were on the brink…” His book is a manifesto about how we must take back our collective societal willpower, get working together again, and regain the human.

You’ll also hear Nick Thompson, Wired’s editor, who has been chronicling Facebook’s dilemmas and failures. He will moderate a session on The Internet Civil War, with Dipayan Ghosh, a former Facebook privacy policy staffer and Obama technology advisor, who now does research on privacy, AI, and civil rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School. They’ll be joined by Veni Markovski, as the representative at the United Nations for ICANN, the uniquely influential global internet governance organization. Joining them will be Scott Malcomson, a former UN and U.S. State Department policy expert who wrote Splinternet: How Geopolitics and Commerce are Fragmenting the World Wide Web.

And you’ll also hear from:

We’ll also have possible solution providers for what ails us, like Jutta Steiner, CEO of London’s Parity.io, which is working on a “consensus technology”-based underlying layer for the future internet. A mathematician, she is one of the world’s leading blockchain experts.

She will be just one of many startup leaders on stage. Others include:

Techonomy is a feast of ideas and people who are thinking deeply about a positive role for tech. May 14-15 in Midtown Manhattan, New York.

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