Tech Companies Must Take Greater Responsibility Of Social Impacts Of Activities: Alphabet’s Sergey Brin

Greater responsibility needs to be taken by technology companies for the impacts their work has on the society, said Alphabet Inc President Sergey Brin on Friday. This is the first time that he has said anything about on the issue of misuse of digital services that has been raging throughout this year.

These comments were made through the company’s annual shareholder letter which was signed by him instead of Chief Executive Larry Page for the first time since 2014.

“We’re in an era of great inspiration and possibility, but with this opportunity comes the need for tremendous thoughtfulness and responsibility as technology is deeply and irrevocably interwoven into our societies,” Brin wrote after quoting from Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities” about the “the best of times” and “the worst of times.”

For regulators, authorities and critics one of the top targets is Alphabet’s primary unit, Google. The role of the company in the online spreading of politically consequential misinformation, its policies for user privacy and its dominating position in search engine advertising has drawn severe criticism from multiple quarters.

However, Brin neither made any specific references to any form of action that the company would undertake to recognize new responsibilities nor did he touch any of the contumacious issues.

His focus was instead on artificial intelligence where computer systems develop the ability to learn without the help of any humans hard-coding them. the use of artificial intelligence is wide ranging – from self-driving cars to software for identification of diseases.

Brin said that the company would move with “serious thought and research” in relation to societal implication of technologies such as artificial intelligence which can result in eliminating jobs and furthering the bias as the company expands use of artificial intelligence.

“While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care and humility,” he said.

In a separate announcement on Friday, Alphabet announced the details in relation to the annual shareholder meeting that is set to take place on June 6. The company gave a call to shareholders to nullify all of the seven proposals that have bene brought in by investors with relation to demanding the company providing more relevant information with regards to gender pay disparity, policies on environmental impact, policies on moderation of content and some other issues.

(Adapted from Reuters.com)

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