Meta: Reimagining Governance and Defining the Metaverse
Of all my podcast recordings to date, this one was the most intimidating.
Meta remains one of the most important companies in the world, and it’s technology platform reaches billions of users globally. The company has been the subject of books, and Oscar-nominated films. It is a company we have all known and used for years, though I remember life before the blue square. And, it has faced plenty of scrutiny from every corner of society and the world — press, political parties, just regular people. Despite all that, the company is built by real people (who are brilliant, sure). And in that, humanity lies aspirations to use this powerful tool to do as much as possible in the world. One of the men at the center of this admirable objective was my guest – Brent Harris.
Brent and I aren’t too dissimilar. We both grew up in America’s heartland and had a rare interest in finance at a young age. With a stroke of luck, we both ended up at fancy colleges. We share an affection for The West Wing, and we recall nostalgically the excitement of the early days of digital — when CDs were mailed to all Americans, and online message boards were at the heart of the internet.
Brent went on to work in the non-profit space, then attended law school, worked in public service, and eventually found his way to Meta through getting to know Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, as they collectively were working on some big issue facing their home state of California. Today, he is helping the company answer some of the hardest questions a corporation has ever been asked: who should govern what is and isn’t allowed on a platform? How does an industry leader determine the rules for the next generation of technology? These are hard questions that require reflection, deliberation, collaboration, and nuance.
The conversation with Brent ended up being one of the most fun and engaging podcast recordings we have done. We have so many similarities and partially because these big questions are the type of intellectual exercises that nerds like us love.
My key takeaways:
- The internet is a tool, and like so many tools, it has incredible power to impact the world for good and sometimes potentially for bad. We, the humans who build and consume these tools, actually control how they are used. Let’s begin by working with one another to focus our use of these tools for good. When we do it right, we superpower our communities with greater knowledge, understanding, economic growth, and empathy. That’s the internet we all want and deserve!
- No one person can or should control the internet or any major ramp into the digital ecosystem. And, given that technology’s next generation may be fully decentralized, we are on the right path.
- But, in a decentralized world, what will be the norms that will guide and govern our behavior online? Getting this right will require some cooperation among all aspects of society. Meta is one of many entities in the metaverse. It will be all of us working together to build the digital future we desire.
- Real people! Behind these businesses are actual people. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk and humans with passions and strengths and families, and even flaws. So are our online friends and opponents — all digital consumers. It can be easy to forget that the other account we are trolling likely has a human on the other side of the keyboard. But, we must remind ourselves of that if we are to maintain our collective humanity.
- Brent is an incredible person. He is trusted by some of the most important people in the world to help us think about some of the most challenging issues we face. It was an incredible honor to sit across from him and have this conversation. I hope you like it!