Concerns About Tech's Impact Mar South by Southwest

The 'high tech' portion of Austin's annual South by Southwest festival has wrapped up on a decidedly downbeat note, as tech industry leaders debate concerns ranging from a lack of women and minorities in the tech industry, to allegations that tech is pulling people apart and empowering 'fake news' and extremist groups, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Ironically, the last day of the tech phase of SxSW coincided with the 29th anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee's creation of the first hyperlinked web page, the date of the creation of the World Wide Web.

San Antonio tech lawyer Debra Innocenti says evidence of the role 'fake news' played in the 2016 election and the potential use of Russian 'bots' to sway public opinion through social media, has hit the tech industry hard.

"Its causing people to be a little bit more concerned, and making users wonder what sorts of ethics are baked into those platforms, and should we trust them," she said.

Innocenti, who represents many prominent San Antonio tech firms, says the rate of innovation is slowing, as the firms take stock of something they have really never considered before...what is the potential downside and misuse of new technology.

"Every time you increase the number of tools that you have, there is always the question of...what can you use those tools to do, and should you."

The tech industry is also being rattled by increasing calls for government regulation, concerns over the level of influence and power wielded by tech firms, the concentration of wealth in the hands of tech titans from Mark Zuckerburg to Jeff Bezos, to a new concern over whether the tech of the future will put masses of people out of work, and could even destroy humanity.

29 years ago, when Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, all that was thought of was the possibilities.  Today, many of those possibilities have taken on a decidedly negative tenor.

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