How bright is our digital future?

In many ways, the answer depends on what path we choose. Learn about what’s at stake and how you can make a difference in this Q&A with well-known futurist, tech critic and entrepreneur, Andrew Keen.

The state of the internet and the modern world are very intertwined. Technology is only going to continue changing the way that we work, play, vote, think and connect with one another.

To explore these issues, we turned to Andrew Keen, an expert commentator and entrepreneur in the tech space. He shares his take on the complexities of digital transformation: what the risks and opportunities are, how tech is really affecting our lives and what CPAs can do about it.

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Your work often explores the dangers – and great positive potential, too – of the internet in business and society. How would you define the digital revolution? What’s on the line?

What’s at stake is no less than the future of society in the twenty-first century. Jobs, democracy, social harmony and culture are all being dramatically disrupted by the digital revolution. Fixing the future, therefore, means addressing the most salient problems of the digital revolution: inequality, the looming unemployment crisis, a cultural crisis and the destruction of personal freedom by surveillance capitalism.

 

In your latest book, How to Fix the Future, you identify social responsibility by business leaders as one of five key strategies for creating a brighter digital future. How can CPAs make a difference by innovating with the digital future in mind?

The most successful accountants of the future will be those who can add to the value of the algorithm. However, outside of work, accountants are also parents and citizens and consumers. You can make a huge difference in shaping the digital future towards our interests rather than those of trillion-dollar Silicon Valley leviathans through your everyday decision making as well. Pick up a copy of my book to learn more.

 

As an executive director for FutureCast, you’re known for keeping a finger on the pulse of the latest tech culture and other emerging trends. What are the most important digital changes you hope to see in the next five years?

Ah, the next five years. That’s an eternity – several centuries – in Silicon Valley terms! But let me make two predictions. First, the most important development will be the slow but steady rise of artificial intelligence in every area of the economy, from transportation and healthcare to commerce and politics. Second, in the next five years we will see the fight back of society and the state against big tech. That means that regulation of companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon will increasingly become a central theme of politics.

 

You’ve had the chance to speak with many incredible minds on your podcast and TechCrunch chat show, Keen On – covering Brexit, nanotechnology, social media, democracy and more. What inspires you to explore such a wide range of topics? And what’s next?

I love asking questions, especially about subjects that I don’t know much about. So my chat shows, which also include the How to Fix Democracy video series and a podcast, allow me to investigate subjects that pique my curiosity. It’s a fun way of researching the future and, speaking of what’s next, maybe even coming up with new ideas for books.

 

We’re excited to have you join us and speak at The ONE National Conference this fall! What can attendees look forward to in your keynote session?

I hope no one falls asleep! What you can expect though is a speech which, in a concise and entertaining way, explains what the great digital issues of our day are – and how to fix them. I hope it will encourage those who come to get involved.

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To learn more about what the future holds in tech, business and culture, including how CPAs fit into the big picture, come to The ONE National Conference in Montreal September 23-24, 2019.