Alumnus discusses ethical issues in Tech Age


Jack McArtney, a 1982 SFU graduate and pioneer of the mobile phone industry, returned to campus on March 14 to discuss finding your “true north” in a horizontal era.

He shared his insights with the University community on ethical dilemmas that arise in today’s technological age.

McArtney helped launch the first cell-phone service company in the United States and has worked for Verizon Wireless, Verizon Communications, Bell Atlantic Mobile and AT&T Amps.

He assisted in work that provided cell-phone service in the subway tunnels of Washington, D.C.

“I just went on a journey of years of growing, learning and doing new and bigger jobs,” said McArtney.

“After 33 years, I exited because I was young enough to leave and start my own business, which allowed me to pursue what my true passion became, which is socially responsible technology.”

The New Jersey native is currently the CEO of the McArtney Group. It is a consulting company that focuses on brand reputation and product responsibility in social and digital media.

McArtney said his most rewarding accomplishment is a transportation solution service he operates with 60 volunteers from his church. The group provides transportation to older adults and the disabled.

“There is this amazing gap between people who don’t have a smart phone and don’t know how to use Uber or Lyft, or don’t trust Uber or Lyft, or have cognitive or physical challenges,” he said.

“They need the same empathetic driver, even though they only get one drive a month or one drive a quarter.”

McArtney said his “true north” is faith-based.

“It’s a hybrid of Franciscan and Jesuit spirituality: simplicity, care for others. It inspires me to chase down the things that will probably take years.”

In the future, McArtney hopes to see his group partner with Uber or Lyft.

“I’m having more fun than I did launching the first cell-phone service or putting cell-phone service in the subway tunnels of D.C.”

Art Remillard, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies, organized last week’s event.

“I think that in a world where our technology is constantly developing and constantly advancing, we have to be thinking about moral responsibility,” said Remillard.

“I think that what Mr. McArtney does and has done throughout his career is try to bring those questions into the world of technological advancement and address them, no matter how complicated they are.

“Every innovation has moral implications and we have to be clear about what those are and about what they’re doing or not doing to assist in advancing the common good.”