Over the last two years, the World Economic Forum has been working steadfastly to advance the incorporation of ethics in the use of technology. This work is under the milieu of the Responsible Use of Technology project.
The project was concurred by more than 40 leaders from government, civil society, and businesses when they convened in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Center in San Francisco in 2019.
Using ethics-based and human-rights-based methodologies, the project intends to 1) Educate and train employees to think more about responsible technology and; 2) Design businesses organizations to promote more ethical behavior.
Specifically, principles in behavioral economics and organizational theories were applied to emphasize how product innovation can be advanced using responsible technology.
Prospects on the future of Responsible Technology
As the project is entering its third year, here are some of the prospects for the future of the project:
1. Ascent of Responsible Investing in Technology
The project began with an original aim of arming practitioners with techniques and tools to use so that their products can create ethical outcomes. The ethics-based approach would govern in designing, developing, and using such technology.
However, our society has become more conscious of the impacts of technology on human rights, prompting leaders to respond and monitor in the earliest stage of technological innovation. As a result, whether the investors are conducting ethics and human rights assessments of the businesses they are investing in is becoming a standard.
The project could not be timelier. A recent Amnesty International report disclosed that the top 10 venture capital firms tallied in the Venture Capital Journal produced sufficient human rights and due diligence policies, which were part of the evaluation procedure.
Therefore, as awareness is mounting, it is expected that there will be a rise in responsible investing in technology. This is true especially in the venture capital space alongside the rise of environmental, social, and governance investing.
2. Tech regulations imposition
This is a historical year indeed globally, as tech regulations were beginning to be implemented in some countries. For example, the European Commission recently implemented the Artificial Intelligence Act, which categorized AI applications in a risk-based manner. Such apps may be classified as having risk that is unacceptable, high, limited, and minimal.
Furthermore, in the US, its regulators are beginning to take action against biased AI systems while federal lawmakers are already proposing various regulations to regulate facial recognition.
Also, last August, the Chinese government stated that it is boosting its legislative efforts in technology, anti-monopoly, and national security.
These regulations are expected to intensify in the coming years as the demand for trusted technology solutions is fast growing.
3. Technology Ethics as subject
Unlike in law and medicine, ethics is not mandatory in computer science, data science, and engineering courses. Some universities offer this subject but only as an elective. As a result, most technologists at present did not have exposure at all to the social sciences.
As technology ethics is gaining demand, it is expected that universities will incorporate this into their curriculum. Recognizing the vital role of computer scientists and engineers in shaping society is important. This will hone them not only as experts in their field but also as conscious citizens.