In the United States the Techlash narrative is driven mostly by the Tech giants - the Big Tech breakup plan and the Big Tech backlash account for 26% of the overall narrative. On the other side of the pond, Europe remains focused on data privacy, but conversations on antitrust, tech ethics and the gig economy signal that a bigger Techlash is just around the corner.
I am more optimistic about the future of European technology today than I was 12 months ago although we are in uncertain times with big problems facing the planet - from climate change to delivering resources such as healthcare, food, and education to a global population approaching 8 billion. Europe is leading the way in building trustworthy technology by choosing to use its values to drive the use of technology to the right place. Being a member of the HLEG-AI group, we published ethical guidelines for the use of AI, and we believe that Europe can take a leading position in development and investment in the ethical use of technology.
One interpretation I have honed in on around 'tech for good' is the idea of 'humane technology', as I think there's a real need to think more clearly through the behavioural ramifications of consumer-tech especially - and its impact on debate/politics/addiction/mental health/etc. I think we have some good thinkers along these lines in the UK, but there remains a contradiction in terms when it comes to business models and the need for rapid returns which still prioritise rapid growth, eye-balls and the attention economy. I see us moving towards a potentially unhealthy dual internet: a free-for-all 'poor man's' web versus a premium web, and I think businesses need to try harder to build products for broader socio-economic segments of society.
'Social innovation' or 'tech for good' is a different approach to entrepreneurship. One that's in contrast with the average MBA-grad, who crunched some numbers and, driven by a search for monetisation, decided to fill a given market niche. I'm excited to see a new generation of entrepreneurs in Europe who oppose the 'move fast and break things' dogma in favour of a more thoughtful, more resilient, truly long-term approach to business. I see more of my entrepreneur friends in Europe looking to build companies that last 100 years, and more of my friends in SV looking for a quick exit. Both approaches to founding companies are valid; I just find the first one to be much more enjoyable.