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course gives you a framework for dealing with ethical issues that will arise in your
career. I think there’s some tone-deafness sometimes, which needs to be
[addressed]. The tech industry has grown in scale and influence probably far
beyond what it ever anticipated. Remember, our roots are that we built products
for businesspeople and other techies. And now we build products that everybody
uses and that affect their lives every single day. This reach comes with a whole
new set of responsibilities. And I think whether it’s privacy, cybersecurity, or
dealing with hate speech and walled gardens, we’re not yet where we need to be.
S+B: You’re the chair of Alphabet. What’s your main responsibility?
HENNESSY: I’m a non-executive chair. So my primary function is to organize
and run the board meetings, and serve as a conduit between the board and the
management team. It’s an extremely complex company with 100,000 employees
that’s still growing at a very fast rate. And that’s probably what makes leading it
really difficult, and really challenging. One of the great things Larry and Sergey
did is say from the beginning, in the founders’ letter, “We’re running this company
for the long term. We’re not running it for the short term.” And that’s what we
try to think about at the board level.
S+B: There is something of a backlash against the power of algorithms and
artificial intelligence [AI], and the companies that profit from them. Is it justified?
HENNESSY: Look, algorithms aren’t infallible in that they guarantee the right
answer every time. Neither are humans. Take driving. Humans are actually OK
as car drivers, but they’re not so good when they’re under 25 or over 70. Or when
they’ve had a drink, right? In all those cases, I think there’s no doubt that a self-
driving car can probably outdrive a human 90 percent of the time. A million
people die in car accidents a year. Cut that in half; that’s an enormous
accomplishment. Or take medical diagnosis. We have lots of errors or delays in
correct medical diagnosis. Lots of unnecessary tests get done. There are lots of

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