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Marc Andreessen, billionaire and co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, recently published his view of the world in a Techno-Optimist Manifesto. Lawyers and risk management professionals, buckle your seatbelts and get ready—he thinks you’re the problem.
As the world comes to grips with the excesses of tech ultra-capitalism, Andreessen’s manifesto doubles down on tech in a deregulation screed that ironically blames the rise of more responsible capitalism as the problem.
Concepts like trust and safety, tech ethics, ESG, risk management, and stakeholder capitalism are the “enemies” of human progress, societal achievement, and a better world, according to Andreessen. Zombie ideas that are “derived from Communism,” (gasp), he warns. The world needs to step aside, put down these “bad ideas,” and trust the titans of tech to carry our world to the stars and beyond.
If that’s Techno-Optimism, I’d rather be a Techno-Realist.
Don’t get me wrong. I love tech. Responsible tech. I’ve devoted much of my career to working at great Silicon Valley companies like Airbnb and eBay that put ethical practices and stakeholder capitalism at the center of their strategic direction. I believe in tech’s power to bring the world together, create jobs, and improve living conditions.
I believe in the free market system that has brought so much prosperity to the world. But I’ve also seen how irresponsible leadership lacking integrity and focused only on growing fast has failed so many, and made billions in market cap disappear overnight—FTX, WeWork, Enron, Theranos. The list goes on and on.
I’ve seen how that focus on the bottom line has made leaders reluctant to address their product’s unsavory and divisive byproducts, and how our environment and our climate have too often taken a back seat in pursuit of growth.
There’s a widening gap between haves and have-nots that isn’t healthy. No surprise the public is growing disillusioned with tech, and that government is becoming increasingly aggressive stepping in to curb its excesses. Even our political parties—who don’t agree on much—are united in their frustration with tech.
The Techno-Optimist Manifesto is worth reading, if only because it represents the philosophy of a highly influential global tech leader and investor. It’s an ode to “technological supermen” who need free rein to create and build, to conquer the world with their intelligence, and “advance life both on Earth and in the stars.”
It’s a forceful defense of free markets and technology as the root of all progress, the solution to all problems, the “engine of perpetual material creation, growth, and abundance.” We are at the precipice of a tremendous upward spiral with artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence, Andreessen writes, a spiral that can save lives. Talk of things like ethics, ESG, trust and safety just slow down that progress, he claims.
It’s got to be a hard pill to swallow if you’re one of tens of thousands of employees who work in law, trust and safety, ethics, sustainability, and risk management at companies where Andreessen sits on the board or invests.
After reading the Manifesto, lawyers and other risk management professionals must feel like Luddites for contemplating things like responsibility, good governance, and integrity. Somehow, I can’t imagine government regulators will react positively to Andreessen’s call to give tech even more power.
I’m pro-tech, but I’m going in a different direction.
If Andreessen represents Techno-Optimists, and Techno-Pessimists are those who believe tech is a danger that threatens to bring down the civilized world, call us Techno-Realists.
We believe in the power of tech to change the world, to drive human growth and progress, and the joy of building.
We believe in the greatness of human potential, with humility and an appreciation for the responsibility we hold in building products and services for the world.
And we understand that trust and safety, sustainability, ESG, and stakeholder capitalism aren’t the enemies of technology—they are its most critical partners.
Rob Chesnut consults on legal and ethical issues and was formerly general counsel and chief ethics officer at Airbnb. He spent more than a decade as a Justice Department prosecutor.
We update regularly World Latest Breaking News here. We update 2023-11-20 15:01:02 this news story from official website – https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/technology-markets-cant-solve-world-problems-without-realists.”
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