To catalyze Autodesk's long-term thoughts about the industries we serve, Autodesk brings in external experts who have a different perspective and point of view. With this in mind, the Visiting Fellows program was established. The Autodesk Visiting Fellows Program recruits senior-level, industry-shaping talent to help light the future path of Autodesk. Although fellows have rich sectoral expertise, they tend to focus on defining and pursuing cross-industry issues emerging at the intersection of our traditional markets and technologies. The fellows program asks the question: How can Autodesk better serve its customers given a changing future?
Our most recent fellow is Yaël Eisenstat. Yaël has spent 18 years working at the intersection of ethics, technology, security, and government policy. She has served as an intelligence officer, a national security advisor to Vice President Biden, a diplomat, Facebook's Global Head of Elections Integrity Operations, a corporate social responsibility strategist at ExxonMobil, and the head of a global risk firm. She is currently also a policy advisor to the Center for Humane Technology, headed by Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, and sits of the Council of Foreign Relations.
Recently, Yaël sat down with Aza as part of a podcast. She spoke about persuasive technology platforms' effects on society, re-thinking responsibility for their actions, and ideas on the government’s role in regulating technology. This is important because today, platforms and technology hold the keys to our public squares.
"We've lost Mr. Rogers... In this 2019 landscape of what we see online on social media and on television with the way the most salacious content wins, [the civility and decency exhibited by] Mr. Rogers would never succeed today."
— Yaël Eisenstat, former Facebook Global Head of Elections Integrity Operations
Get the context around this quote and more by listening to the podcast:
In my opinion, Autodesk has made an excellent decision to have Yaël as a fellow, as we continue to ensure that we use our customers' data responsibly. Recently our CTO was interviewed by engineering.com and had this to say about data and corporate responsibility:
"I think things like [General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)], if not GDPR specifically, tell us we can't do any of that [follow a person around in an online world], unless the people specifically permit it. As our CEO says, we're not a company that is in the business of collecting customer data to sell it to others. When we use data, it is for improving customer productivity and experiences. And, it is always with their permission. We're very careful about anonymizing data. Our point of view on data is almost completely different than Google's or Facebook's for an obvious reason: their business is basically selling data."
— Scott Borduin, Autodesk CTO [engineering.com]
In addition to GDPR, there's also the California Consumer Privacy Act (CDPA) that is a piece of consumer privacy legislation that was passed into California law last year. To date, this Act is the strongest privacy legislation enacted in any state, giving more power to consumers with regard to their private data. Companies like Autodesk that already comply with the GDPR may find that they currently meet many of the requirements set forth in the CPDA. With many experts predicting that other states will enact similar laws in the coming years, companies that take proactive steps today to protect customer data will be prepared to adhere to those additional laws. Yaël's fellowship is part of Autodesk's proactive steps.
Autodesk has always been an automation company. Today, more than ever, that means helping our customers automate their design and make processes. We help them embrace the future of making, where they can do more (e.g., efficiency, performance, quality), with less (e.g., energy, raw materials, timeframes, waste of human potential), and realize the opportunity for better (e.g., innovation, user experience, return on investment).
Corporate responsibility is alive in the lab.