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The Most Important Commencement Speeches in 2018: Sheryl Sandberg at MIT

The Greatest Commencement Speeches in History is a weekly column that compiles the most memorable speeches in history with the goal to emphasize on the power of public speaking, to illustrate its importance, impact, and necessity to master.

Today we keep our focus on the commencement address which Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered in front of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 2018. Here are the most important outtakes:

“I didn’t know where I would fit in best or contribute most. These days, when I need advice, I turn to Mark Zuckerberg, but back then, he was in elementary school.

I was sure of only one thing: I didn’t want to go into business, and it never even occurred to me to go into technology.

I guess that’s a warning for those of you who put your hands up: Certainty is one of the great privileges of youth. Things won’t always end up as you think, but you will gain valuable lessons along life’s uncertain path.”

“They understood that the most difficult problems and the greatest opportunities we have are not technical. They are human. In other words, it’s not just about technology. It’s about people.

“Today, anyone with an internet connection can inspire millions with a single sentence or a single image. This gives extraordinary power to those who use it to do good — to march for equality; to reignite the movement against sexual harassment; to rally around the things they care about and the people they want to be there for be there for.

But it also empowers those who seek to do harm.

When everyone has a voice, some raise them in hatred. When everyone can share, some share lies. When everyone can organize, some organize against the things we value the most.”

“I believe there are three ways we can deal with these challenges: We can retreat in fear, we can barrel ahead with a single-minded belief in our technology or we can fight like hell to do all the good we can do with the understanding that what we build will be used by people and people are capable of great beauty and great cruelty.”

“But at Facebook, we didn’t see all the risks coming, and we didn’t do enough to stop them.

It’s painful when you miss something, when you make the mistake of believing so much in the good you are seeing that you don’t see the bad. It’s hard when you know that you let people down.”

“Yet the larger challenge is one all of us here must face. The role of technology in our lives is growing and that means our relationship with technology is changing.

We have to change too. We have to recognize the full weight of our responsibilities. It’s not enough to be technologists, we have to make sure that technology serves people. It’s not enough or even possible to be neutral. Tools are shaped by the minds that make them as well as the hands that use them.”

“Know that you have an obligation to never shy away from doing the right thing, because the fight to ensure tech is used for good is never over; to make sure that technology reflects and upholds the right values, we have to build with awareness, and the best way to be more aware is to have more people in the room with different voices and different views.”

“Even if you’re the most junior person in the room, you have power. Use it, and use it well.”

“If we succeed — and we’ll succeed — we will build technology that better serves not just some of us, but all of us.”

“I hope you will use your influence to make sure technology is a force for good in the world. Technology needs a human heartbeat; the things that bring us joy and the things that bring us together are the things that matter most.”

“The future is in your hands.”

Cover photo credit: YouTube

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