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Microsoft CEO: 'Technology Is Both A Tool And A Weapon'

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Microsoft CEO: 'Technology Is Both A Tool And A Weapon'

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella has been at the helm of the Seattle based software giant for six years. In a wide-ranging interview with Fortune published Monday, he talked about his views on tech and trust, equality, sustainability, the roles of the private sector and the government and the future of his company.

Microsoft's CEO On Tech, Trust

Nadella described digital technology as a “most malleable resource.” Citing his colleague Microsoft President Brad Smith’s book “Tools and Weapons,” he said technology is both a tool and a weapon.

In questioning whether the economic growth from technology is equitable, Nadella made several points. 

First, he said: “you cannot have just the tech industry growing; you have to have all industries growing.” "The great convergence” between emerging and developed markets needs to continue, Nadella said.

Then, he talked about trust. “You can’t have unintended consequences.”

Data and privacy rights are a human right, the CEO said. He also addressed sustainability and remarked that growth or trust cannot be discussed without thinking about “not breaking the planet.”

Nadella On Regaining Trust

Talking about the need to learn from other industries that have dealt with trust issues, Nadella questioned: "why, for example, do I trust the food I eat and food safety laws and regulations?”

Microsoft's CEO On Regulation

On being asked how Microsoft should be regulated, Nadella said they can’t wait for the regulators. “How do we regulate ourselves?”

The CEO said he hoped that in the U.S. there would be more federal regulation and laws surrounding data privacy. Nadella gave Microsoft’s GDPR implementation worldwide as an example of self-regulation.

Nadella On The Private Sector's Role

Microsoft’s head warned that the core model of a business should be “aligned with the world.” It is not possible to do environmental, social and governance work on one hand and “break the world” on another, he said.

Nadella stressed the importance of government doing its part by giving the example of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Talking about the need for enlightened governments to do their parts he said: “It’s not about any one company building a wheelchair ramp; it’s about everybody being required to make it possible for people with disabilities to fully participate in our economy.”

Nadella On The Next Big Thing

On the evolution of technology, Nadella pointed out that it is becoming “embedded in a world of people, places, and things.”

He emphasized the need to look around us and see what role technology is playing in fields such as agriculture, medicine, banking and retail.

Drawing a parallel with electricity, he said: “in the next 10 years, I’m looking forward to software and digital technology helping every industry, the way electricity did.”

The Worst Advice Nadella Has Ever Received

“History will come back and bite you in the a--,” Nadella said, explaining the need to develop a learning mindset going forward.

It's not possible to look into the rearview mirror and reflect on what led to initial success, because it will not determine future success, he said.

 “There’s no God-given right that, because you achieved something, you will achieve it again.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons. 

 

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Posted-In: Fortune Satya NadellaNews Education Tech Media General

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