PRSA Silicon Valley Media Predicts Recap

PRSA at Bospar

The PRSA Silicon Valley Chapter hosted its 13th annual Media Predicts gala in November.

The featured panel was moderated by Jack Stewart, the senior tech and transportation reporter for Marketplace. Participants included Ina Fried of Axios, Laura Mandaro of Forbes, Mike Isaac of the New York Times, and Ryan Mac of Buzzfeed.

Here’s a recap of their 2020 predictions.

Technology Regulation

2019 saw yet more political turmoil and technology security trust issues. So, it’s not difficult to understand why the main focus of the night was, for a second year, technology regulation. For example, Jack Stewart strongly believes that 2020 will be the year that “the regulation of Facebook is going to happen.”

As we look at the progress of the technology anti-trust and regulation movement, it’s clear that not much has changed. In 2017, Deloitte issued an analysis of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and found that 68% of them had never been updated. As a result, politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren have spoken out about big tech companies and come up with bold plans to break up major tech companies in order to end their anti-competitive acquisitions and have a better chance at regulation.

Ina Fried spoke to the regulation of big tech by saying, “[Big tech] is being regulated, we just don’t have the effective means to rein it in yet.” Laura Mandaro agreed. “The disillusionment we are all feeling right now is going to continue,” she said, but she added that “[people] will be making rules for more transparency in companies where the tech intersects with our daily lives.”

Ryan Mac added that it falls to technology reporters, like all of them, to educate law makers on technology and how it actually operates.

Transparency

With new types of technology emerging and the lack of preparation and regulation in the U.S., transparency is yet another issue. In a world where money, technology and politics have come together, many can agree that Silicon Valley could be the next Wall Street. Fried argued that “in a lot of tech news, these issues become public. Who we take money from becomes very complicated, whether that’s on a personal level, at a company level or even at the international level.”

Panelists agreed that the U.S. has taken a major step in terms of transparency after the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) signed into law in mid-2018 requires that companies provide an opt-out on data sharing as well as clear statements of what data is being collected and with which third parties this data is to be shared.

Emerging Technologies and Smart Technology

Mandaro expects that, as the public mistrust of technology continues to grow, more people will join the “anti-technology technology club.” She explained, “We want to know what the newest and latest technology trends are—it’s part of our social cache,” she said. “But to actually acclimate to new technology at this speed is not realistic.”  

Fried concluded by saying that big tech will make it difficult for emerging startups to gain visibility in 2020. “The expectation is that the next Uber isn’t right around the corner, but it probably is. The issue is that we are in this moment where the industry is dominated by how the big companies are reacting and a society that has really changed its views. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for startups. It makes it harder [for them].”

Journalists Discuss the Future at PRSA Silicon Valley 2018 Media Predicts

PRSA at Bospar

The PRSA Silicon Valley Chapter hosted their 12th annual Media Predicts event in December, and the panelists’ insights were fascinating.

The panel was moderated by David Kirkpatrick of Technonomy. Participants included Nico Grant of Bloomberg, Jenna Blaha of Elle, Jillian D’Onfro of CNBC, Michael Liedtke of the Associated Press, and Ahiza Garcia of CNN Business.

Here’s a recap of what they think is coming down the pike in 2019.

Technology Regulation

It’s not difficult to understand why, with our current political climate, the main focus of the night was the future of technology regulation: from the Facebook trial over the Cambridge Analytica debacle to Bill Gates stating that technology companies need more regulation, there is growing user unrest about the monetization and misuse of user information and data.

In the course of the Facebook trial, Senator Dianne Feinstein implied that she felt Facebook was representing the entire tech industry at the trial and that the decisions made at the trial would determine “how strongly [the] industry will regulate or reform the platforms that they control.”

Bloomberg’s Nico Grant agreed, saying we will see more regulatory action in 2019 that will make tech companies more accountable.

Whether or not this change is something that occurs in 2019, the fight surrounding technology regulation is clearly underway.

Technology in Healthcare

With technology continuing to be one of the largest and fastest expanding industries, it’s no wonder why it is helping shape and redefine other industries such as healthcare. For example, there are tech companies, such as Zingbox, whose main agenda now is to provide IoT service protection solutions for healthcare.

There has been rising discontent with the people of this country in regards to healthcare practices. The panel discussed the topic of doctor malpractice and patient misunderstandings that can arise from visits, as well as the possibility of using AI and robotics to help solve the issue by having a device that could record and transcribe patient visits and assist with patient electronic files.

On the other hand, there are healthcare devices that we all love and use, such as trackers, sensors and other wearables. These types of devices are not exempt from the misuse of data collection. Jenna Blaha said that while most people might want the latest gear because of the social cache, at the end of the day they just want to live their lives. The fact of the matter is that there is a Catch-22 situation with regards to wearables, the use of the information they gather, and how that information is used. “It’s the anti-technology technology club,” stated Blaha. Users have become more aware of the issues surrounding their health and in turn have begun to hold companies liable for their actions and to pressure them into taking a stance.

Women in Technology

It was inspiring to see three women in technology on the panel this year.

Women make up 50 percent of the population in the United States but only 26 percent of the technology workforce. It is the responsibility of women to help pave the way for other women as well as to educate them, the panel agreed.

Blaha has made it her priority to interweave technology and fashion. At the 2018 Media Predicts event she even said, “Technology is driving sustainable efforts across the spectrum. Elle has to talk about it in a way that would be interesting to the readers that come to us.”