Big Tech has long faced accusations that it is a detriment to society, and Google thinks it can address those criticisms more directly. axios‘ Ina Fried says the internet pioneer has hired James Manyika as the company’s first senior vice president of technology and society. As Google told Ploonge, the director of the McKinsey Global Institute will help explore the impact of technology on society and shape the company’s views on subjects like AI, the future of work, sustainability and other areas that can make a significant difference.
Manyika will report directly to Alphabet and Google boss Sundar Pichai and will work with outsiders and internal staff. It will help build technology impact leadership across the company, Google said, and will focus on high-profile, long-term initiatives.
The new hire seems to have the right track record. Manyika spent 28 years at McKinsey, which helps companies and governments (including tech leaders) make decisions based on economic and cultural trends like the ones Google hopes to address. He also serves on the boards of research institutes at Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Stanford and other top schools. If anyone is likely to be aware of the wider effects of technology on the world, it is he.
Google’s move is certainly not surprising. This comes as the company faces a series of antitrust lawsuits, increasingly strict regulations and protests over its treatment of employees. There are also allegations that Google and Big Tech have not done enough to fight misinformation and are eroding privacy. The new executive won’t necessarily adjust all of Google’s behavior, but he can provide a more informed perspective that reduces the chances of a cultural or political backlash.
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