WNSF: Julie Hanna On What Responsible Innovation Means in this New Tech Era

What have we wrought? Many in the tech community are increasingly pondering that question in the past year as public scrutiny roams from election hacking on Facebook to #metoo charges in the Valley. One tech veteran has been thinking about what tech has wrought longer than most and has developed some ideas about what could be done about some of these unintended consequences. Julie Hanna has founded and been a founding executive of five venture-backed startups (including Healtheon, now WebMD), and currently is an advisor to X (formerly Google X) and Executive Chair of the Board Kiva, to name just some of what she does. She has spent a lot of time thinking about purpose-driven profit, values-based leadership and what responsible innovation in this era of technology means. She wants to use May’s What’s Now: San Francisco at Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange to start a conversation about these increasingly important themes.

Responsible innovation is important for all companies, but particularly tech companies that aspire for scalable solutions with broad reach. It is critical for X, which is Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, which by definition is trying to come up with solutions to humanity’s most pressing challenges, and specifically those that positively impact at least 1 billion people. How can the tech world look ahead to minimize unintended consequences without blocking out-of-the-box thinking necessary for breakthrough ideas? Julie’s work with Kiva and serving as President Obama’s Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship gives her a good perspective on how innovation plays out abroad too.

Then what about the consequences of hiring practices, intentional or not? Julie has always been able to successfully navigate the male-dominated world of Silicon Valley, but she says her mentoring of younger women entrepreneurs in the last couple years has deepened her perspective on gender and cognitive diversity in the tech world. She has some thoughts about what might be done but by no means has all the answers. She’s looking forward to a larger conversation with all those who gather – and so are we.

Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange is our partner for this series. This event is free but requires advance registration through an invite. If you are interested in attending, email contact@reinvent.net. If you can’t attend in person, the event will be streamed here starting at 6:30pm PT.