I loved this piece by Kara Swisher on Twitter: “Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will” in the New York Times. It hist on a greater truth for tech in general. Rules won’t save us. Values will.
Take it a step further, AI won’t save us. Values will.
We need our techies and entrepreneurs to put down their copies of Atlas Shrugged and read books like Their Eyes were Watching God, or the Heart of Darkness. We need more people reading books that cover alternate views of the world, or of commerce (like the Big Short, Moneyball, etc.).
I just think we need to have values that transcend our current business need. Some companies and founders try to solve this by having a purpose or mission-driven company. I think that can work beautifully but it has to be organic, and of course, it can’t just be a cover for a bad business model (as might be argued by a few recent news revelations). And there’s a danger for anyone too purpose driven — the risk of being perceived as hypocritical (witness what happened with Google’s “don’t be evil” mantra!).
To put this in techie terms… think about Waterfall vs. Agile Development… One of the key tenets is that agile development will put Responding to Change over Following the Plan — another way of saying “value(s)” over “rule(s)”.
Of course, it would be comforting if we can hand our decisions off to rules engines. But even then, the rules have to come from our values, or we’re lost.