By Jacquie Kane and Deanna Meservey, Account Directors – RPG Boston

What is the future of the telecommunications industry and how do humanity, technology, ethics and a moral compass all play into its evolution? Larry Weber, CEO and chairman of Racepoint Global, recently hosted a webinar with leading experts and creative minds in the telecommunications industry, including Candace Johnson, Nicholas Negroponte, David S. Rose, and Jon Sawyer to address these questions.

During the conversation, Larry teased the essence of his next book focused on the ultimate blending of technology and humanity.  According to Larry, the seventh wave of computing since World War II will be about discovering “the angels in our machines.”

As a result of the global pandemic, conversations about the intersection of humanity and technology are happening everywhere. In the face of considerable uncertainty, it seems clear that a post-pandemic world will require brands to fully embrace authenticity, transparency and a moral purpose. The coronavirus has exposed many societal challenges, including access to reliable technology. Furthermore, panelists aligned on the idea that brands will have no choice but to pick sides on complex issues.

Connectivity as a Human Right

According to Candace Johnson, serial satellite entrepreneur and high-tech investor, connectivity is a human right and everyone should have access to it, whether that’s television, the internet or media outlet. 

Ms. Johnson, whose father worked for President John F. Kennedy, grew up surrounded by some of the greatest minds who believed in the potential for technology to improve human lives. She believed that lack of access to connectivity was an injustice and someone needed to right that wrong because content enables freedom of choice and should be available to anyone, regardless of status or income level.

Johnson launched the first satellite in 1988 with a focus on providing free access to content. The following year, the Berlin wall fell and individuals from all over the world watched history in the making. It brought the European people together to share cultures and ideas and promote understanding.

While technology has been at the forefront of major global shifts, John Sawyer, executive director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, argued that a return to local journalism and a rebuilding from the ground up of the credibility and relationships with local and regional media is the biggest communications task before us.

How Technology and Humanity Converge

Since 1988, technology adoption has skyrocketed, sparking a vast amount of innovation. David S. Rose, serial entrepreneur, angel investor and author, argued that the next paradigm we will face will be the convergence of computing and humans, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has ignited this thinking. 

Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, was an early predictor of this. When the internet was invented, he argued, it was designed for a specific kind of asynchronous type of communication, not what it is being used for today. Video streaming, real-time video consumption—these innovations, driven largely by start-ups, have actually stifled innovation, in his view..

Mr. Negroponte argued that, while places such as the MIT Media Lab have enabled fantastic innovations and new businesses, the introduction of investors and shareholder value shifts all of the innovator’s time and energy. They become focused on one project or enterprise and, as a result, big ideas ultimately become smaller.

Having industry luminaries discuss the role of technology under the cloud of a global pandemic made for some provocative conversation. Is telecommunications a human right? Are start-ups limiting big-idea thinking? Is picking moral fights the key to authentic marketing? At RPG, we consider these conversations that matter. Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow and join the #futureofcomms conversation on social media.

About the Authors

Jacquie Kane

As an Account Director at RPG Boston, Jacquie is responsible for providing strategic counsel on corporate reputation and supervising daily account services. She brings over 17 years of experience in PR and marketing gained consultancy-side, in-house and freelance from positions held in the U.S, U.K., and China. Jacquie is experienced in corporate reputation management, marketing communications strategy, media relations, government and influencer relations, crisis management, branding, inbound marketing, social media strategy, events and much more.

Deanna Meservey

An Account Director at RPG Boston, Deanna leads client engagement in the company’s technology and healthcare practices by providing strategic support and counsel, while also providing day-to-day support to ensure the team is hitting on all cylinders and attracting the media attention across business and technology press and broadcast media. Deanna brings relevant work experience to the team with a unique blend of in-house corporate communications experience at a global technology company and over 10 years of hands-on work experience in the television news industry. Deanna is experienced in strategic planning, communications, company branding, media and influencer relations, social media strategy and more.