Back in 2015, I had the opportunity to meet with Malcolm Turnbull (who was then Minister for Communications and later the 29th Prime Minister of Australia) and Lucy Turnbull AO (Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2003 to 2004 — the first woman to hold the position) while on an fellowship to Australia.
I really enjoyed meeting them and we stayed in touch over the years.
This is why it was an honor and a privilege to collaborate with Michael Krigsman of CxOTalk in an in-depth discussion with Malcolm and Lucy on the topic of Disruptive Innovation and Social Impact. We did this video in 2020, before the outcome of the U.S. elections was known and the chaotic events that would follow with the lead-up to the inauguration were not known yet either, however some of the insights Malcolm, Lucy, and I shared were foreshadowing some of the turbulence ahead. Michael Krigman’s full transcript from the event is available here.
Of particular note:
Malcolm Turnbull: That’s something we’ve got to be really alert to because people, your adversaries, whether they’re domestic or international, have the ability to create the impression of a surge of public opinion on an issue when it is completely bogus.
Lucy Turnbull: If you could actually, with social media strings, identify where they say likes or thumbs up, thumbs down, or whatever it is, if they could actually characterize or identify that the likely ratio of bots to normal humans is X to Y, that would be enormously helpful in the community calibrating what the strength of the underlying support is for a particular piece of information or disinformation.
Dr. David Bray: It’s fascinating because what we’re seeing, particularly as you talked about using bots to manufacture the appearance of social mobilization, and it’s getting even more interesting where a human will initially create the account, so they get past the captchas and everything like that, and then they’ll shift to letting the bot do it. In the moment either Twitter or Facebook has tried to crack down on them, they’ll get the human back on the scene and say, “No, no, no, I’m a real person.” Then they turn away the attention.
Malcolm Turnbull: Michael, you’ve got to basically map that. You’ve got to work out who is going to be adversely affected by the changes of globalization and make sure that there are other opportunities, better opportunities. You’ve just got to be very, very aware and alert to that and you can’t just assume that a rising tide of economic growth will lift all boats because it doesn’t.
Lucy Turnbull: Step one is acknowledging the problem, acknowledging the challenge and, as Malcolm said, work with it and make sure that those left behind are actually supported. Not subsidized forever, but they are supported into a new technology and energy system, a new economy. I think that is vitally important.
Dr. David Bray: All right. Again, I think Malcolm and Lucy said it all. If I could add some additional contributions, I think we’re really talking about having empathy for those disrupted, particularly those that are in places that, again, may not have seen the beneficial effects of globalization and technology.
I think, again, maybe ten years from now, historians will look back and say, at least for the United States, 2016 to 2020 was a period in which some part of the United States called out and said, “Time out. We’re not sure if this path of globalization, this path of digital advancement, is helping us as much as it’s helping others, and so we wanted a time out.’”
Two, though, I think we’ve got to say, part of this responsibility, we can’t just say that’s the government’s role to fix. It’s going to require — whether you’re in the private sector as a CEO, private sector as an investor, private sector as just a positive change agent that wants to make things happen — instead of doing learned helplessness and saying, “Oh, that’s not in my scope. I can’t do anything,” I think what we really need to do is figure out how CXOs around the world can say, “We want to uplift everybody because that creates a better framework and a better overall commonwealth and market for all if we can uplift everyone.”
Full CxOTalk video below; here’s to the future ahead!