Leslie Witt, VP of Design at Intuit
As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology?
“Tech is a means – a phenomenal means, at that – but not an end in its own right. I want my kids to understand the power technology provides as newfound possibility, its latent potential to solve big problems, in tandem with respecting and inspecting the norms that it shifts and the human reality it aims to serve. I want them to understand the ethics of engagement and to have deep awareness of the new problems technology can create in its wake.
“The rate of change driven by dynamic tech shifts today is something out of sequence, out of all historic experience, with the broader cultures’ ability to keep up. Living in Silicon Valley, my kids — twin 7-year-olds obsessed with Scratch, Siri, creating, and media! — live in a setting where that velocity of change is their norm. It is an insulated bubble of privilege, not just of the monetary kind, but of the experiential kind, as well. And in many ways that’s even more powerful. Every day, what they’re doing and seeing, what their friends’ families are working on and developing, opens their minds to big and bigger possibility. It implants utopian visions in their souls. That’s an amazing reality. But, it’s also a big responsibility. They will have to be conscious consumers and highly conscientious creators.
“Working at Intuit, empowering small business success through technology, I get the chance to show them what responsible, mission-driven technology development and deployment looks like every day. But you have to talk about it and unpack the what and why to ensure that they begin to grok the moral and ethical underpinnings of possibility.”
What is your favorite technology to use as a mother?
“I’m a sucker for Alexa. Tells me the news, plays my favorite podcasts, sets all the timers needed — something in the oven…and on the stove? Ten minutes of iPad time earned? Fifteen minutes ’til we need to leave for karate? It also empowers my kids to ask and answer their own questions – whether that’s just how to spell ‘question’ or deep discovery of their new favorite songs and increasingly niche interests. Now if only we would embrace ‘polite’ mode.”