Traditionally, many technologists used to take the naive position that “technology is value-natural.” However, with incidents such as Cambridge Analytica and Theranos, most people understand the design and use of powerful digital technology can indeed have powerful consequences. As the role of digital technology increasingly shapes our everyday lives, the ethical dimensions of the design, use and management of these powerful tools become an important issue.
From the use of social media that can damage teenagers’ self-image to algorithmic bias in criminal justice and HR practices, how we use digital tools cannot be separated from the ethics of technology. The goal of designing ethical digital technology should not be just avoiding harm to the users and society. Instead, the ethical goal of digital technology is to make people thrive. It is not enough for algorithmic hiring to remove bias and inequity in the process; it should help people thrive in their job. It is not enough to design social media not to cause teen depression and suicide; it should help them have a meaningful life. These are critical questions that xLab is asking as it engages with partners to help their digital innovation journeys.
Members of the campus community are invited to attend a virtual roundtable on this topic Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 10 to 11 a.m. featuring:
- Shannon French, the Inamori Professor of Ethics from Case Western Reserve University;
- Kirsten Marten, the William P. and Hazel B White Center Professor of Technology Ethics from University of Notre Dame; and
- Tae Wan Kim, associate professor of business ethics at Carnegie Mellon University.
The group will discuss how companies can design, use and manage digital technology ethically.