Technology and ethics
May 19th, 2023

Technology drives change, growth, and profit in many businesses. It is widely adopted across all sectors and facilitates our increasingly online existences.

So far so good, but what about the role of ethics in this fast moving field? Technology is an integral part of almost every aspect of the modern world from hackers to critical infrastructures, and its algorithms have a human effect.

So, should it be subject to some sort of ethical code?

Technology – computers, software and digital data – is everywhere, both visible and hidden. AR and VR is becoming increasingly sophisticated and mainstream. Ever more seamlessly integrated into modern life, if it can have unpredictable or unintended effects on people’s lives, should there be a commitment – or at least guidance – towards ethical conduct in the field?

As the question of ethics becomes increasingly pertinent for both designers and consumers, businesses must manage potential friction between technology beneficial to them from a business perspective and it’s possible impact on people and clients.

In which case, if there is an ethical responsibility not to misuse machine learning, AI, and predictive analytics, should designers specifically evaluate their work for potential misuse or harmful side-effects?

Should they include detailed considerations about exclusion, discrimination, harassment, and ethical treatment of users? Should it be developed with specific consideration of accountability, responsibility, transparency and inclusion on the basis that that AI can often feature bias? And if so, who should be held accountable for implementing those considerations?

The commitment to incorporating technology ethics into company culture starts with quality leaders who make it a priority to scrutinise the ethics of their company’s digital transformation and then make sure that staff fully understand and implement it.

For tech to be ethical it must be trustworthy as well as effective. Whether through website customer tracking cookies or security systems for safeguarding, this is relevant to every company which relies on technology.

So that’s pretty much every company.

With ethical foundations in place, as the digital transformation of a business proceeds, new tech can be considered against them and any ethical impacts measured, evaluated, and positively actioned. And trust should be the first principle.

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