Progress has never been a bargain. You’ve got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man behind a counter who says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone; but you’ll have to give up privacy, the charm of distance. You may conquer the air; but the birds will lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline!’
At the beginning of a new decade, these lines from the play Inherit the Wind seem as appropriate for the technology industry as they did for the debate over evolution taking place in the drama. The tech industry is faced with a tricky balancing act: continuing to drive innovative solutions while grappling with the side effects of those solutions in the global economy. The challenge itself is not unique—every industry deals with this tension as it becomes more mature—but the new variables here are the scale that tech is able to achieve and the evolutionary aspect of mixing digital and physical worlds.
It's time for the industry to take the next step. There are tremendous benefits available through technology for both business and society, but there are major questions around safety, privacy, sustainability, and trust. The answers to these questions come from combining technical expertise with social awareness. By embracing responsibility for all the changes innovation can bring, the tech industry can be responsible for driving future progress.