System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot with Mehran Sahami & Jeremy Weinstein | Summary and Q&A

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December 16, 2021
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot with Mehran Sahami & Jeremy Weinstein

TL;DR

Technology companies need to take responsibility for the social harms caused by their products and collaborate with government and other stakeholders to find solutions.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How can individuals working in big tech companies make a meaningful impact in addressing the social harms caused by technology?

Individuals can make a difference by pushing for ethical considerations and broader values in product design, advocating for transparency and external research, and engaging in thoughtful decision-making within the company. However, it is also crucial to recognize the limitations of individual efforts and the need for systemic change.

Q: How can companies balance their pursuit of growth with the responsibility to mitigate social harms caused by their products?

Companies should embed ethical considerations into their product design processes and create decision-making structures that prioritize values over short-term gains. This requires a shift from an exclusive focus on legal compliance to a more proactive approach in understanding and addressing potential harms.

Q: How can we ensure that the voices and concerns of governments and people from other countries are included in discussions on technology governance?

It is important to have global conversations about tech regulation to address the global impact of technology. However, these conversations are currently concentrated in the US and the EU. To include other voices, there is a need for more collaboration between governments, sharing of information and data, and the establishment of global standards. The US government can play a crucial role in taking the lead and engaging with other countries in shaping international tech policies.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speakers discuss the need for responsible technology governance and the challenges posed by the current tech ecosystem in Silicon Valley.

  • They emphasize the importance of addressing systemic drivers of technology-related issues, such as the optimization mindset, rapid growth, and indifference of politicians.

  • The discussion focuses on key challenges, including algorithmic decision-making, data privacy, AI automation, and the impact of technology on free speech and democracy.

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