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Wipro’s Rishad Premji bats for self-governance by social media firms

Software major Wipro’s Chairman Rishad Premji on Thursday said social media platforms have integrated the world like never before and should be allowed to practice ‘responsive self-governance’ to tackle the menace of hate and misinformation.

Premji said technological developments on the digital and social media represent an incredibly powerful opportunity for betterment and the issues arising through its misuse need to be addressed immediately.

‘Technology, particularly digital and social media, have integrated the world as never before. They’ve fostered human connections and solidarity across distances and barriers. And this is incredibly powerful. At times, they have been a channel for consolidation and fomenting of hate and misinformation,’ Premji said.

The remarks, made at an event of industry lobby IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, come at a time when Twitter and the government are engaged in a row over the former’s non-compliance with new IT rules.

Premji said if we do not tackle the tensions and the questions that arise from the potential misuse of a social media platform, their ‘extraordinary potential’ will not be fulfilled.

‘… either they may understandably get curtailed by governments or may continue to unleash forces which are against human wellbeing,’ he cautioned.

‘Perhaps, the approach to confronting this matter is much more responsive self-governance by the technology platforms as is being practiced by some of the players today,’ he suggested, without making any explicit reference to the current row.

Premji also said that while technology has given immense power to the small businesses and consumers through access to information, it has also resulted in ‘winner takes all’ market, where a single or few companies hold sway.

Monopolies or near-monopolies should not dent the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, he said, adding, ‘we need to think through what does regulation mean in the world of technology, including cross border regulation and laws on competition’.

He said technology also has the potential to impact jobs and we must ensure that people are reskilled to be able to participate in the new opportunities which will be created by technological disruption.

Premji warned that we must not look at technology as a panacea for all human development, citing the example of the education sector to illustrate that while technology can empower the teacher as a great tool, it cannot replace the teacher.

He also said that hybrid work models are here to stay and we ought to learn to grapple better with the challenges of remote working like ineffective management and engagement, and, data security and data privacy, which are only going to accentuate in the future as more people work from home.

Premji said technology made it possible for us to live through what has been a tragic year, which has also shown us that human bonds have no substitute.

‘I would urge all of us to learn one thing from this year of tragedy. That to fulfil the extraordinary potential of tech, we must also ensure that it is truly aligned to true human good,’ he said. PTI

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