WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: Noble intentions don't excuse harmful outcomes
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: Noble intentions don't excuse harmful outcomes

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The backlash keeps building against giant U.S. tech firms over their lack of candor on privacy issues, their slowness to respond to Russian propaganda on their platforms and their indifference to the growing evidence that the digital era is taking a severe toll on the mental health of middle and high school students and young adults. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s tart and dismissive responses to critics in recent years reflect denial or arrogance or both.

Against this backdrop, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent commencement speech at Stanford stands out for its frankness. After first citing all the tech breakthroughs that originated in the Silicon Valley, Cook went on to say “lately, it seems, this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation: the belief that you can claim credit without accepting responsibility. We see it every day now, with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech. … Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes. … But if you’ve built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.” Cook went on to say Apple would put more of a premium on online privacy than ever.

Given that Apple’s business model profits from the aggregation of personal data — both directly and indirectly — it’s easy to be cynical about Cook’s comments. But the first step in solving problems is acknowledging they exist.

-- The San Diego Union-Tribune

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