March 26, 2023

Digital technology has changed our society in incalculable ways. From cell phones to social media to email, our entire lives are now shaped by technology in ways that we may not even be completely aware of.

However, the more digital technology permeates our world, the more concerned people are becoming about its negative effects. Worker displacement, data privacy, the rise of misinformation, the environmental crisis and the global mental health emergency can all be, at least within part, attributed to the increasing prevalence of technology across all facets of society.  

While many of these societal ills are most often associated with popular social media platforms, gaming systems and mobile applications, the truth is that even the most benign-seeming technologies can, whether intentionally or not, easily become weaponized in order to cause harm. Furthermore, digital transformation success hinges on stakeholder trust. If users and customers don’t have confidence in your organization or the technology you leverage, your electronic transformation, and your business along with it, will likely fail.  

And we’re not alone in thinking this. According to recent research conducted by Deloitte, 57% associated with respondents from “digitally maturing” organizations say their leaders spend adequate time thinking about and communicating digital initiatives’ societal impact.  

Furthermore, in addition to outcomes, ethics frameworks should also consider data sources, methods of computation, technology use, safety/operational risk and assumptions in automated decision making.  

It goes without being said, ethical business practices start with compliance. However , when it comes to data protection and personal privacy, ethical information usage will be more than just a regulatory obligation, it’s a strategic imperative. Afterall, data-driven applications and automations are only as good as the particular data they ingest.  

With this in mind, forward-thinking organizations are developing and implementing comprehensive data ethics guidelines to help ensure the digital technology and AI does not cause unintentional damage. For example:

One of the biggest concerns surrounding intelligent automation plus digital transformation is that new technology will displace human workers. Truth be told, this fear is not really unfounded.

In accordance to Forrester , automation will replace 12 million jobs in the US by 2025. In inclusion, automation has been linked to decreased wages , economic stagnation and adverse mental effects .  

Case in point, as we outlined inside a previous piece about workplace burnout, 45% of U. S. workers say that the technologies they make use of at work does not make their job easier and are in fact very frustrated with it.  

The time has come for organizations in order to assess electronic technology not only for the value this brings shareholders, but with regard to its potential impact on the human workforce. At the heart associated with this endeavor lies IT/business alignment. By working closely with business units to make sure new digital investments drive both company objectives plus employee experience, IT can increase adoption rates as well as the chances of overall success.  

There’s no doubt about it. The proliferation of electronic technology is usually exacerbating numerous if not all of the world’s the majority of urgent environmental crises. From the disastrous environmental effect of rare metal mining to the particular staggering amounts of energy a single AI model consumes , digital technology of almost all kinds comes with substantial environmental costs.

Though calculating the environment impact of digital technologies can be incredibly difficult and complex, organizations and researchers are starting to do just that. Large tech companies such as Apple, Meta and Google have just about all made ambitious pledges regarding reducing their carbon footprints. While some associated with their claims are a bit dubious, they have significantly increased the efficiency of GPUs, TPUs and other information processing technology.  

As AI and software become more prevalent, so do scandals involving their own unintended consequences.

Take, regarding example, the particular recent Charles Schwab robo-advisor saga. In June 2022, Charles Schwab agreed in order to pay $187 million to settle an SEC investigation into alleged hidden fees charged by the firm’s robo-advisor, Schwab Smart Portfolios. As reported from the Washington Post, “The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Schwab — which controls $7. 28 trillion in client assets — associated with developing automatic advisory products that recommended investors keep 6 percent to 29. 4 % of their particular holdings in cash, rather than invest them within stocks or even other securities. Investors stood to gain significant income if that money had been invested; instead Schwab used the cash in order to issue loans and collect interest on those funds. ” Within other words, it was [allegedly] designed to make Charles Schwab money, not really the client.

Though the settlement does not require Charles Schwab to admit any wrongdoing, it’s easy to see how something like this particular could easily happen. The humans behind technology (i. e. programmers, product marketers, etc. ) are conditioned from the particular very first day they enter the labor force to prioritize profitability above all else. It’s just natural that these biases would be reflected in the technology these people create.  

However, that does not mean that will these results can’t be avoided. By integrating ethical decision making into every step of the development plus operationlization process, you can minimize ethics-related risks.  

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