TheBridge profile: David Ryan Polgar
Name: David Ryan Polgar
Current city: Manhattan & West Hartford, CT
Current job: Founder of All Tech Is Human
Past job: Co-founder of the Digital Citizenship Summit
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Gregorys at 20 East 40th Street, right near Grand Central. It is great coffee, convenient location, and a warm yet energetic vibe.
Q. Can you describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job? Networking really is half of my job, as I am constantly meeting new people and cultivating relationships. A major skill I have honed from previous jobs is how to balance authentic connection with needed efficiency. It is very easy to become transitional with networking, which builds numbers (of connections) without truly building a powerful network that you can rely on.
Q. Job advice in three words? Own your narrative
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? Our tagline for All Tech Is Human is: "Let's co-create a more thoughtful future towards technology." We bridge the gap between policymakers and the tech industry by uniting a diverse and inclusive group of stakeholders committed to collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Right now we need to bring together a broad range of people--people who may passionately disagree--to tackle the thorny issues facing tech that have profound societal ramifications (privacy, speech regulations, algorithmic bias).
My own background has bridged across academia, media, industry, and thought leadership--giving me a unique perspective in how we can be less siloed. Major issues that come up include a lack of cross-pollination and shared language.
There is a recognition that we have moved past the awareness stage--we know there is a problem. Right now is the more difficult task of rolling up our proverbial sleeves and trying to solve issues. This requires that the ecosystem of what I like to call "thoughtful tech" is better connected.
Q. What can innovators learn from policymakers? Policymakers can teach innovators to incorporate diverse opinions and a more structured process to expose blind spots. While an innovator is often thinking of the best-case scenario stemming from the intended use of a product, policymakers specialize in considering oversights, misuses, and unintended consequences.
Q. What can policymakers learn from innovators? American ingenuity is something we should be proud of. Why has America been so dominant globally with tech? That is a question we should never lose sight of, because the United States should always be a place that cultivates creativity and risk-taking to develop world-changing ideas.
Policymakers provide the necessary oversight and safeguards, but policymakers can learn from innovators the need to be bold.
Q. Favorite book/podcast/long-form article you recommend? The Interface by Casey Newton (The Verge) is a daily newsletter that I consider essential reading. He provides breaking news, insider analysis, and long-term thoughtfulness around the thorny tech issues.
Q. Morning routine? I like to feed my brain and belly in the morning. My morning is not complete until I have a strong coffee, the New York Times, and a full breakfast. I tend to think of ideas and people to contact while reading the paper, which I jot down.
Q. If you had to live in another city, which would it be? I was in Bratislava, Slovakia a few months back to speak at FutureNow and was blown away by both the beauty of the city and the genuine enthusiasm of the tech community. I like the idea of thinking about emerging tech while also having a castle up on the hill. You are also close to Vienna and Budapest, so it is a cool part of the world.
Q. Startup to watch? I have been having a few conversations with people from the NYC sextech community recently, and I am starting to think they are sitting on a goldmine. As people become more comfortable talking about the products, there will be a lot of potential consumers who realize they have been underserved for years.
Q. Last time you were completely unplugged? I like to have a yearly vacation sitting on a beach in the Caribbean to fully unplug for a few days. Without it, I feel like I am just maintaining my career as opposed to building new ideas. Unplugging on the beach allows my brain to wonder and to wander.
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