Joe Toscano on Fighting Big Tech Bias With Data ScienceFeb 8, 2021
Joe Toscano turned the adage "if you can't beat them, join them" on its head and decided to leave his work as a Google consultant and take the fight over data privacy to Big Tech.
"Morally, I did not believe in the way the industry was operating -- the patterns across the industry, the unreasonable way they operate -- I thought it was very damaging to society and that they could treat consumers better," he said on the latest Follow the White Rabbit podcast. "I also felt that by doing that they could create better business models."
In June 2017, Joe sold all his belongings, including his tech-related shares, left San Francisco and began globetrotting, evangelizing about redesigning the online consumer experience, breaking out of the social media echo chamber, and the data privacy reckoning on the horizon. Now he is the co-founder and CIO of Better Ethics and Consumer Outcomes Network (BEACON), a socially innovative organization that operates at the intersection of human-centered design, social impact, and public policy.
Joe may have started with audiences of just a few people, but he soon laddered up to be a sought-after consultant to governments and businesses and was featured in the hit documentary @SocialDilemma_, where Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization.
Based on his experience at Google and training as a data scientist, Joe shared his opinion on how the multibillion-dollar technology companies conduct flawed customer research. "Leading questions, confirming biases and perpetuating a monopoly -- without pushback on it because there's no economic competition," he said. "They could build it for the consumer (justifying it) as if the consumer wanted it."
"Their metrics are wrong, their success metrics are wrong. The data science behind it, the fundamental metrics are fundamentally wrong -- embedded in a $90 billion business."
At BEACON, Joe aims to disrupt the tech giants, optimistic change will come -- "forced by government or forced by market innovation," he said. "Let's force market innovation and see what we can do."
To hear more about Joe's David-and-Goliath fight, follow us down the rabbit hole. Listen to the conversation here or on your favorite streaming service.