RESET Meeting 10: Reshaping technology
Wed, November 13, 2:30 PM in Folsom Libary Rm. 353B
- Our conversation about the Big Three tech companies quickly diverted to one about whether a company can ever be “ethical.”
- Even if the people who start and work at a company are good and are trying to do the right thing because the system companies exist within rewards selfishness, that is inevitably going to be the predominant behavior of companies.
- Ethically-minded companies with tangible goals for social good still need to make a profit thus equate profit and social good.
- Food is a social construct.
- So is money.
- The rise of private armies.
- Now that we have diagnosed the problems with large tech companies, what are some productive ways of restructuring them that can bring about ethical progress?
- Is there a way of reconciling a company's profit motive with worker satisfaction and empowerment? Can there be a democratic shift at these companies that gives employees larger decision-making power? Are these shifts already occurring?
- Big tech companies have contracts and leverage with our government and the governments of other (sometimes authoritarian) countries. This diplomacy is done at the management level of companies and employees may disagree with the politics. This occurred at Google when they had a contract with the Chinese government to sell it a censored search engine. Employees voiced their opinion and it worked. Should dissenting employees at other companies use this as a model? Are there more effective ways?
- The role of these companies in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions is not negligible and people are starting to demand change. Where should this change come from: government regulation, corporate decisions, employee opinion, all three? Can this strategy work for other ethical concerns like data harvesting and surveillance?
- How do consumers of the products of these companies voice their opinion and call for change? Would consumer advocacy groups be enough or are there better strategies?
- Who should decide how new technologies are used? Automation can benefit corporations and consumers but at the cost of workers. Genetic technology could improve healthcare at the cost of privacy. How do we reconcile competing interests?
Articles and links:
- Amazon workers walkout over climate change
- Podcast episode about automation and who should be making the decisions with new tech
- Facebook workers speak out over political ads
- Tech Workers Coalition
- Google employees speak out against Project Dragonfly