Data, Digital and Technology (DDT) continues to rapidly transform the ways in which business, government and civil society operate. There is no doubt that it has brought many benefits – it’s harder to get lost when you have a mobile device with access to Google Maps! But there has been increasing recognition that the consequences of applying DDT without proper review can lead to harm, entrenching or exacerbating existing societal biases.
This has led to an explosion of codes of conducts and principles on how to develop ethical tech products and services. Though this is a good sign that the tech industry has recognised the importance of ethics, this proliferation has created a bewildering landscape for charities wishing to understand the key considerations needed for digital ethics.
So how can you navigate the maze? Here are our five top tips, based on our work with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) to help their members to discover which ethical principles are relevant to them and how to ask questions of tech partners to ensure they are on board.
1. Understand your environment
So we want to build an ethical digital product or service. How we get there requires us to understand the context in which we operate, so we can tailor our principles to that context. For example, for AMRC members, the context is data and digital health research, by charities and their partners, in the UK. It’s less catchy than just saying ‘digital health’ but it provides a useful frame to explore where other ethical work has been done and what might be different to this particular context. What is the context that you are working in?
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel
AMRC sought to assess what was out there already – rather than simply add to the ever expanding DDT ethics field. In the absence of a perfect fit to the specific context, we aimed to signpost to the most relevant high-level principles. This meant acknowledging what was distinctive, and also common about their context, identifying relevant principles, and connecting them to best practice and existing requirements. Can you use an existing framework?
3. Plan your route
With a clear understanding of our environment, we identified the relevant ethical principles for AMRC members through undertaking a review of literature, speaking with experts working in the field of ethics and AI and speaking with AMRC members who have the deep expertise in the fields they work with and quickly. The field of digital ethics is still evolving and we found people were willing to discuss and share their work. One key finding is that more guidance is needed to help all organisations really embed ethics into practice. Who should you involve?
To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.
Source: Charity Digital News