In advance of Techonomy 2018, we asked our speakers crucial questions that frame our upcoming flagship event. Request your invite to join us this November in Half Moon Bay, CA.
Q: What emerging technology can have the greatest positive impact on society?
Trick question. There are so many areas of incredible promise, from AI to neurotech to genomics. The potential for positive impact is amazing, but so is the potential for harm if these technologies are misused. So the real answer is that the emerging technologies that will have greatest positive impact are those built from the beginning with robust guardrails around responsibility and accountability.
Q: What is the biggest issue that you worry is not getting enough attention?
I spend a lot of time with incredible early stage entrepreneurs who I know are trying to change the world for good. But often when I ask them if they’ve thought about how their technology might also unintentionally cause harm I get a blank stare. For example, we met a team developing an encrypted peer-to-peer messaging service and asked them if they’d built protections against bad actors using their service to incite communal violence (like what’s actually happened in places like Myanmar and India using WhatsApp). “Great question,” they said, “no one’s ever asked us that.” Investors really need to raise their game and ask more questions like this to the entrepreneurs they support. It’s much easier to avoid these problems when businesses spot them early on.