- Microsoft President Brad Smith penned a blog post on LinkedIn about the 10 biggest issues tech is sure to tackle in 2019.
- Artificial intelligence, he mentioned, will play a powerful role in how the economy functions, whether it leads to job growth or decline, and how tech companies work with law enforcement to implement facial recognition.
- And with no mention of President Donald Trump, Smith echoed concerns made by other tech giants over the trade relationship between China and America.
The tech industry is still reeling from a tumultuous 2018, as growing privacy concerns, cyber security threats and online disinformation campaigns have caused many people to reassess their relationship with technology.
Things are only going to get more complicated as new innovations like artificial intelligence and voice recognition become increasingly commonplace in our lives.
Microsoft President Brad Smith outlined some of the biggest tech issues in store for us this year in a sobering blog post he recently published on LinkedIn. Another year of public 'tech-lash' seems probable, Smith writes, as society debates the roles that technology, and tech companies, play in our lives. But there's also an opportunity for us to confront the challenges head on, and to take steps that will help us reap the benefits of innovation while avoiding the pitfalls.
Here's what Microsoft's President believes the top 10 tech issues will be in 2019:
First priority: Privacy
Smith believes privacy protection is set to gain traction in 2019, both in Europe and the United States.
Businesses in Europe will have to continue to find ways to interpret the General Data Protection Regulation — a 2016 law guarding the data and privacy of all those within the European Union. And California's new Consumer Privacy Act means the issue is becoming more widespread.
"Look to the next few months for the spread of privacy legislation to several other state capitals, all of which will set the stage for an even bigger debate on Capitol Hill," Smith says.
Fakes News and 'Disinformation'
Social media platforms have become a preferred means for nation-states to spread disinformation campaigns. And last year marked a "sea change" in our understanding of the problem, Smith says.
"The big question now is what will be done to address the problem," he writes.
While social media companies have begun to acknowledge their responsibilities and accountability, Smith suggests that new laws could be used to ensure that social media companies take the issue seriously. He mentions a white paper by Virginia Senator Mark Warner to "impose a duty on social media platforms to determine the origin of accounts or posts, identify bogus accounts and notify users when bots are spreading information."
The US/China relationship
The tech sector could be in for a bumpy ride this year when it comes to trans-Pacific trade, Smith says.
"Across the American political spectrum there is greater appreciation of China’s momentum in artificial intelligence and other technology and heightened concern about its economic and national security implications," writes Smith.
Smith likened the December arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, to a "Netflix drama." Talk of export controls on emerging tech like AI, and the potential for protectionist rules limiting acquisitions by foreign companies in Europe will become increasingly important stories to follow.
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