Over the last year or so, we have been hearing rumblings that there should be regulation around tech companies, or we will end up with another Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a bit hard for some people to swallow because those in Silicon Valley have had quite a bit of freedom to make some serious changes – for better or for worse. But according to Apple CEO, Tim Cook those days might be long gone as he thinks that regulation of the tech industry is “inevitable”. On Sunday, Tim Cook was interviewed by Axios on HBO, and he had a word of warning for everyone else in Silicon Valley:
“Generally speaking I am not a big fan of regulation. ‘m a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn’t worked here. And I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation.”
And this is what I’ve been trying to say over the last few months, but Tim Cook is much more eloquent than I am. The current “system” isn’t working. What once was a good idea, is no longer. Which is why there have been rumblings to this effect by lawmakers. Not only have I been saying this, but it’s the big question that the tech industry has been dealing with in understanding what their role is in shaping modern society. Apple, Facebook, and Google all have very compelling arguments for how they have changed the world. From building the devices and services we use (and overuse) every day to determining how we access news and even how we engage with democracy – these companies can’t hide behind themselves for much longer.
If you think about things like the enormity of their power, its kind of scary. Apple, for example, has gone head to head with the FBI in relation to privacy. Google has been forced to answer questions about their reported search engine that they’ve been developing for China. And in the last week, Facebook has been pulled back in for their response to the Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The point I’m trying to make here is that there is a lot of power with these companies, so it would come as no surprise to anyone that regulations might be coming.
What else did Cook talk about in this interview?
- On diversity in Silicon Valley, he believes “from a gender point of view that the Valley has missed it” but that things are improving.
- On privacy, Cook said the industry shouldn’t see the issue as “privacy vs. profits or privacy vs. technical innovation. That’s a false choice. What we’ve done is your device has incredible intelligence about you but I don’t have to have all of that as a company.”
To wrap up, I will leave you with an interesting and extremely compelling quote from the Cook interview with Axios. It eloquently examines where we are presently, from a technology perspective:
“Technology is good or evil as you put it depending upon the creator. Many times it’s not that the Creator set out to do evil. It’s that there wasn’t an anticipation of these negative things that it could be used for.”