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There are many ways in which technology can improve how an organisation works. But looking at the big picture, is technology improving society?
Politicians and big corporations are talking about technological growth, limitless connectivity and digital identity. At the same time, we see people who are disoriented, flooded with information and struggling to interact with apps and websites on their day-to-day use. This is called the Digital Gap and it has an ethical dimension. If we are going to prioritise resources for getting people on board with technology, we must to do it with technology that respects humans, society and the environment.
Some organisations, like companies or community associations, work towards a fairer society by designing, developing or using technological tools that belong to one or several of the following movements.
- Tech for Good is a common name for defining technology that aims to improve society. McKinsey defines it as “using technology to smooth disruption and improve well-being”.
- Roy Rinberg proposes the use of the term Public Interest Technology, arguing that Tech for Good seems to put more emphasis on “tech” than on “good”. Public Interest Technology is defined by Bruce Schneier as “the study and application of technology expertise to advance the public interest/generate public benefits/promote the public good”.
- Doteveryone (UK) proposed the term Responsible Tech for defining technology that is fair, ethical, and sustainable. Whereas the use that organisations like All Tech is Human (US) give to this term has some similarities with this definition, the direct translation of the term in Spanish, Tecnología Responsable, is normally used to refer to actions that aim to advocate for a responsible use of technological devices.
Each one of these definitions provides its own nuances, conforming an heterogeneous movement of movements that aims to bring Ethics to technology. More concretely to Information Technology (IT), the technology that deals with managing information electronically, and to the purposes it serves.
One aspect that needs further clarification is if non-ethical means can be used to serve ethical purposes. Which tools should be used for supporting Ethical IT processes? What makes an IT tool ethical?
Do you have a different definition of these movements? Do you (dis)agree with any of them? Do you think they are effective? Please get in touch with your thoughts, comments or ideas.