Questions of good and evil aren’t exactly in the scope of everyday association management, but bear with me for a moment.
At the ASAE Technology Exploration Conference in December, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to keynote speaker Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, who in a brief 40 minutes had sketched out a daunting landscape of social, political, and economic implications arising from technologies in everyday use (mobile devices, social media platforms) and in a phase of rapid R&D (artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic modification). Despite a Dark Side lurking in all of them, Thompson said he was optimistic that these technologies will, on balance, benefit humanity.
I asked him where, at this moment in time, he would place technology on a spectrum of “force for good” to “force for evil.” He gave “good” the edge, but just barely, at 51 percent, predicting that the needle could move to a much more comfortable 70 percent or so over the next decade with sound decision-making by leaders in technology companies, research institutions, and government.
To that list I would add the leaders of trade associations and professional societies. Many are already supporting the development of these technologies and will help shape the standards that will govern their use. Many more will convene important discussions about the impact that AI, robots, genetic technologies, and other innovations eventually have on the workforce and everyday life.
This issue, our annual edition on executive leadership, is far more here-and-now than all that. But executives who lead well every day—supporting good governance, checking their own biases, and bringing their whole selves to the role to fully connect with their communities, as you’ll explore in this issue—are serving something bigger too.
Although a date is just a number, the beginning of a new decade always feels to me like a step into the future. Welcome to 2020, where we set out on the road to 70 percent good and beyond.