Is abundant data redefining morality?

Posted on July 25, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I am not a political animal, never have been…but this weekend I had a brief chat with a friend who is voting for Hillary Clinton. He said, “I’m doing it, but if you read the report on her private server, it’s really bad…” My response was that I have become a bit jaded i guess, and at this point it is clear to me that 95% of people who reach Hillary’s level of influence, or even a few rungs down on the ladder, have bent the rules one or many times along their path to the top. It’s a bummer to say…but this is not just a political phenomenon. In business as well…most of the billionaires you know or have heard of…at some point along the way…they broke a law, made a questionable call, stabbed someone in the back, or worse…For better or for worse a very reasonable path to amass influence and wealth in modern society is to break the rules…Many of your entrepreneurial heroes, many of your VC crushes…way more people in our own ecosystem than you might at first consider, have done wrong on their path to the top.

Historically, I have reveled in the fall of unethical titans. Maybe it’s a chip on my shoulder…I don’t know…but as the world is filled with more and more information…and as it becomes easier to see a person’s every move, I have come to accept that almost everyone…even “good” people…do “bad” sometimes. We are in this moment of unprecedented visibility into the lives and actions of any individual…be it a police officer, civilian, public official, or CEO…and I think it’s becoming clear that there is a lot more bad behavior in ANY individual’s life, than we were previously willing to admit or wanted to acknowledge.
In a world of top down media and information, it used to be easier to dilute ourselves into believing that the objects of our public affection were ethically perfect and behaviorally consistent…but in today’s world where everything is recorded and everything is findable, it has become very clear that most are not…

Now we could be depressed that our society seemingly rewards questionable ethics and behavioral compromise with power and influence..or…we could redefine our expectations and accept that ethical compromise is the norm amongst those at the top as well as the bottom, and therefore judge it less harshly. I’d like to think that increased transparency in today’s information age will lead to cleaner behavior amongst our leaders, but I fear we are, albeit understandably, moving more in the direction of lowering the bar…

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One Response to “Is abundant data redefining morality?”

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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