Ethical Use of Technology

by Akbar Jaffer
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ethical use of technology

Over the years, technology has become such an integral part of our daily lives that it has significantly changed the nature of our society. However,  as with any powerful tool, it is important to consider the ethical implications of how we use technology. This age old debate is important to have now more than ever what with applications of AI, ML, (say ChatGPT), Neural Networks, un-attended weapons and more.  In this article, we will explore some of the key issues surrounding the ethical use of technology and how entrepreneurs, founders, and investors can ensure that we use it responsibly. Some opportunities exit to curb the negative side effects of the technological advances and other opportunities exist to just say NO to certain applications.  This topic is a debate that much continue and does not and should not stop at one blog article, one report, or one company’s efforts.

First example, the internet has revolutionized the information age, communications capabilities, and collaboration opportunities; but it has also made it easier for hackers to steal personal data, culprits to spread fake news and miss information and propaganda, platform for mentally disturbed to use social media to commit pre-crime publicity, and for cyberbullies to harass and intimidate others. With great freedom and access comes great responsibility. To ensure that technology is used ethically, it is important for individuals and organizations to prioritize security and privacy, and to be mindful of the impact their actions may have on others.

Other areas where technology has or continues to infringe on the ethical guardrails or citizen rights include personal and business privacy, information security, employment law and discrimination (age, sex, gender, disability).  These apply to not only how corporations collect, process, store and use information but also how individuals respect each other’s information. Then there are the criminals and culprits who hack, steal, sell and/or use data illegally for their own financial gains. There is an entire category of security technology and practices to safeguard personal information from bad actors to get their hands on.  Could we create a “self destruct” sequence that essentially nullifies the social security number and all financial data as soon as the personal ID is stolen? I would pay money for that but then the company offering such a service will have to make sure they don’t get hacked.

Ultimately, the ethical use of technology requires a combination of individual responsibility and collective action. I believe Civil Society must be used to draw a line somewhere. The use of drones, robot police, nuclear bombs, biological weapons like Corona Virus and other similar bio-weapons used in the past, surveillance on citizens (from ground, space, sea) in the name of national security and more. These in my opinion, even if justified in the face of un-manufactured enemy, are a band aid solutions. To solve such conflicts we must consider becoming a pluralistic societies and solve the problems at the core instead of curing the symptoms.  I welcome your thoughts and comments especially if you offer an alternative better solution or at least a view point.


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