Tech is a four letter word. And at some point in the last five years it became just as filthy as the worst of them. Cambridge Analytica, dubious quizzes, and your uncle on a racist rant; Mark Zuckerberg’s best impression of a dead-eyed shark before Congress; the squalid, shouty echo-chambers of Twitter; the bilious seepage from Twitter to Parler; the unhinged over-promise of the WeWork dumpster-fire (with added tequila shots); the po-faced, polo-necked mega-lies of Elizabeth Holmes at Theranos; the bro-in-chief antics of Uber’s Travis Kachalnik; the ride-share war against almost every city mayor on the planet. There was death in the Valley and blood on the spreadsheets. Google’s Don’t Be Evil mantra had never looked more ironic. These companies, these entities, these philosopher-priests who had once professed to change the world for better — now they seemed only to be making it worse. Big tech made bankers look cuddly. And the money rolled in.
But the past year has begun to change all that. One of the few positive side-effects of the global pandemic is that it has put the brakes on progress and pace at any cost. And it’s shown that technology, for the first time in a long time, might once again become part of the solution, as opposed to an agent of the problem. Slowly, just slowly, in the early days of 2021, we are beginning to see the green-shoots of positivity; little shards of light from behind The Cloud. Call it purpose. Call it impact. Call it mission. Call it positive change. It doesn’t really matter. But the signs are there that the greatest trend in big tech now — and, perhaps more importantly, the greatest trend in the money behind big tech — is that goodness is back. Kindness is king.
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