For the everyday person who doesn’t have a career in technology, it’s quite easy to get wrapped up in the negative narrative surrounding tech today.
Smartphones are ripping away our interpersonal skills.
Social media is fueling cyberbullying and depression.
Facebook is stealing our privacy – and spreading fake news.
Robots are taking away our jobs.
You get the picture, right?
No matter where your personal opinions lie, we can all agree that the tech industry could use a hero right now. What might surprise you is that the hero may not be an ambitious, flashy startup or probable unicorn; it could quite possibly be a giant that has been around for decades and went through its own identity crisis in the past: Microsoft.
You see, while the other giants of our time are being criticized for a myriad of reasons, Microsoft, led by chief executive Satya Nadella, is steadily making its mark as the company with a social conscience.
Its most recent display of pure kindness and compassion happened Monday at Build, a three-day conference for developers, where Nadella announced A.I. for Accessibility. The new program will award $25 million over five years to researchers, nonprofits, and developers who use artificial intelligence to help people with disabilities, according to the New York Times.
According to those that know him, Nadella’s own caring and empathetic traits have helped push Microsoft into the forefront as a company that cares and wants to make a difference. His experience as a father to a son with cerebral palsy opened his eyes to the need to be inclusive and supportive to all. And while no company – especially in tech – is ever off the hook entirely from public scrutiny, it’s comforting to see a behemoth like Microsoft making headlines for something so positive in today’s somewhat off-kilter climate.
Technology has changed every aspect of our lives, and sometimes battle lines are drawn over what the good vs. the bad changes are. When something is so powerful that it changes human behavior, there is bound to be passion and debate. But it’s comforting to know there are initiatives we can all get behind and cheer for; that we don’t have to question or worry about or argue over.
So hats off to Microsoft for giving us all a reason to smile. In a time where it can be difficult to see the good, I’m thrilled to see a project in the tech industry where it’s difficult to see any bad.
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