Rethinking Technology... or Become the Tool of Our Tools. A Silicon Valley Symposium

By Tom Mahon

Twenty years ago, when 'high-tech' meant a PC on the desktop, a car radio, and a flat-screen TV at home, digital technology was an add-on to our lives. But now we are totally immersed in the digital ecosystem, where matters of value and virtue are excluded, except in the context of a successful IPO.

The benefits of mobility are many, of course, but so are the risks. Weigh the convenience of a Netflix stream against ID theft.  Can you imagine your life now without the Internet, even as we begin to see the dark side since the Snowden revelations, the Sony hack, and the recent shut down of the New York Stock Exchange and United Air.

Meant to be the great global equalizer, the Internet is largely now in the hands of a small group of technologists and financiers with the ability to control and track what we see and read (and soon, with predictive analytics, what we think).

To begin addressing this at the grassroots level, I invited a representative sample of Silicon Valley folks, from very different backgrounds, to a Symposium last April at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio of San Francisco.  The subject was Rethinking Technology.... or become the tools of our tools.

A 30-minute video, edited down from the 2.5 hour event is at

My hope in sharing this is to encourage others like yourselves to begin getting together in small groups to discuss how to maximize the best of the mobile Internet into their lives, and minimize the distractions, the threats, and the surveillance that have come with it. And perhaps sometime soon, build a platform to share the best ideas with others elsewhere.

With our minds and hearts, let us pray for peace.
And with our tools and new technologies, let us work for justice.
And we can make it so....

-Tom Mahon