SAN FRANCISCO – Google worker outrage over the idea of censoring searches to appease Chinese officials highlights the dilemma U.S. tech companies face in accessing the lucrative market. Using technology to make the world better is a well-worn mantra in Silicon Valley, preached so strongly by internet companies such as Google and Facebook that it has become part of their identity. That idealism has repeatedly run headlong into a wall of reality when it comes to internet firms needing to compromise with the interests of governments that have oppressive approaches to online activity. "The tech industry had a utopian view of the world and of itself," said Irina Raicu, director of the internet ethics program at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley. "It's running up against its own narrative of how it holds certain values."
Society Do I Know You? Technology ICT Pauliina Alanen has ventured a long way from her social science studies to become a tech professional, making a pit stop in Silicon Valley on the road to her current post at Finnish artificial intelligence company Silo.AI. To balance her studies in social and political science, Alanen dipped into the tech scene during her student years and ended up working for Jolla – the Nokia offshoot – as an assistant. Back then, she felt like blushing when telling people she worked in the tech scene, as it was so new and exciting to her. However, at Jolla she found a fertile environment and culture to learn the ropes of the scene, which helped her to realise every tech-head's dream: move to California and work at a startup in Silicon Valley. After nearly two years, she returned to Finland to tap into one of the leading trends in the field – artificial intelligence – whilst working for one of its leading proponents in the Nordics: Silo.AI.
Technology is an enabler but it's ultimately humans who dream and make the decisions that create positive – or negative – tech-fuelled innovation. That was the consensus of four leading female executives speaking on a panel at today's Trans-Tasman Business Circle event, Tech for Good. The Sydney event followed on from a recent tour taken by 35 Australian female executives of leading Silicon Valley technology companies, where two themes emerged: Culture and capability for learning and growth; and fusing people and AI. As WPP chief customer officer and Tech for Good participant, Sunita Gloster, pointed out, technology isn't good or evil by itself, it's what you do with it that makes all the difference. As the artificial intelligence (AI) race builds, the accountability mandate has to rise with it, she said.
The aviation industry has discovered Silicon Valley, and it's now in full migration mode. Europe's Airbus and Brazil's Embraer have touched down in the Bay Area. Lufthansa launched direct service between San Jose and Frankfurt last year, and is rumored to be considering setting up its own "innovation outpost" nearby. Silicon Valley's deep talent pool and seemingly endless ability to generate smart, large-scale, technology-based ideas across industries could help hyper-competitive aviation entities quickly upgrade their offerings and improve their operations. "It's no longer good enough to wait for change to come to your industry; you need to be out there where it's happening," said Brad Power, an innovation consultant with FCB Partners.