Former President Obama on Thursday cautioned an audience at a technology conference in California about the dangers he believes new and emerging tech platforms can pose.
Speaking to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff at the company’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco Thursday, Obama spoke at length about technology and social media and its role in society.
“When you have big disruptive internet tech, it can be a dangerous moment,” he said, according to Fortune. ”Part of what happens is people don’t know what’s true and what’s not.”
The former president didn’t completely speak negatively about social platforms and big tech, saying he still believes “the internet could be a powerful tool for us to see each other and unify us.”
“But right now, it’s splintering,” Obama said.
Obama suggested that social media and technology are helping to drive misplaced desires.
“In part fed by social media and technology, we’re chasing after the wrong things, we want the wrong things,” Obama noted. “So much of the anger and frustration has to do with issues of status.”
He added that while using technology to solve society’s problems is key, companies also have to ask if they are doing so with an eye on “common values.”
“Part of solving big problems is not just a matter of finding the right technical solution, but also figuring out, ‘how do we restore some sense of our common values?’” Obama said Thursday, Fortune reports.
He also pointed to the importance of having diversity in decision making roles, something the tech sector and Silicon Valley, in particular, have been criticized for a lack of.
“If you’re running a business right now, and you’ve got no African Americans or Latinos or Asian Americans… around the table, you’re missing a marker,” Obama said.