Technological development is advancing at a rapid pace. Along with it, the unresolved problems ranging from data privacy abuse to fake news misinformation, mental health concerns to AI-induced job losses, are also on the rise. This is why ethics in tech is expected to remain a massive global topic in 2019.
Technology has infiltrated every industry. The same systems and platforms are gaining more attention now and changing the way many businesses operate. Companies are looking towards Big Data, AI and Blockchain technologies to drive efficiency and growth in their business. However, the challenge is to find a balance between the benefits drawn from the use of these technologies and ethical application of them that would maximise their positive value to the society.
One of the current approaches has been to develop guiding principles for the ethical development and use of technology. For example, Microsoft has developed AI Principles with a belief that ‘Designing AI to be trustworthy requires creating solutions that reflect ethical principles that are deeply rooted in important and timeless values.’ Another example of such a framework is the contract of the World Wide Web. However, this framework is also flawed quite necessarily.
The speed of technological development is currently faster than the speed of our understanding of its impact. This would make it difficult for a company to use defined principles as an ethical guide since they would not be able to fathom the full suite of technological systems or range of its implications. Because some impacts from technological development require making value judgements that are not agreed upon universally. For examples, in self-driving cars, there will be a requirement of programming as to whose welfare is more important in an event of a collision. The ethical dilemma like that has no definitive answer. This makes it difficult to have one defined set of moral principles to guide all companies with technologies.
In order to maintain ethics in technology, every company will need to step up and do some fundamental thinking to define an approach that works for them. It is very important that every company allocates time and resources to do so because a lot of our future will be relied upon technology and not drawing an ethical line to it can well turn the friendly technology into an evil force that can cause destruction.
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The CSR Journal Team