The U.S. and China are “decoupling.” Internet platforms inevitably will be rebranded as media companies. Global warming has already advanced to a stage so dire that the world may need to consider geo-engineering. Collaboration, writ large, is our only hope for making progress on any of these matters. And in tech, we are entering a new age beyond “cloud,” defined more by “the edge.”
These are just a few things you’ll hear at our Techonomy 2019 conference, if you’re here in Half Moon Bay, Calif., or watching remotely via livestream. The conference starts 2pm Sunday Pacific, and here’s today’s agenda. It may be our most dense, ambitious, provocative, and in some ways disturbing one yet.
“We need to reinvent democracy,” says author Andrew Keen, a broadcaster who helps open the event. “Tech isn’t bad, but it needs to be in service of people, and if we lose sight of that it will be bad for society as a whole,” says Katherine Maher, who heads the Wikimedia Foundation. “Listening to tech leadership is like listening to a hostage in a hostage video,” opines Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology, among our least sanguine speakers. “None of what they say makes sense until you see what’s offstage holding a gun to their heads, which is their business model.”
As we completed our prep calls in recent weeks, many speakers sounded alarmed. And even those excited about breakthroughs in their work feel a new urgency. These are not placid times, but Techonomy’s stage will host many who are thinking deeply about what matters most, next. We built the program to help more of us figure that out.