Future of Work News

Responsible Technology Becomes Pressing Need


Technology is intended to improve the lives of humans, and it’s gotten to the point to where technology is involved in communication, logistics, healthcare and even currency. In the business world, tech and data are staples. Businesses invest in technology for ROI, efficiency, customer relationships and employee engagement.

Sure, focusing on convenience and cost is the traditional reason for technology investments, but it's gotten to the point to where technology needs to be used in more responsible ways as opposed to just focusing on convenience and cost.

In fact, almost three-fourths of business leaders believe that “responsible technology considerations will eventually come to equal business or financial considerations in importance when organizations make decisions about technology use,” according to a ThoughtWorks-MIT Technology Review Insights report.

“As technology becomes a fundamental part of every business, and as we see consequences of its misuse play out, responsible technology use has become a critical business expectation,” said MIT Technology Review Insights’ Global Editorial Director Laurel Ruma.

But what is responsible technology? ThoughtWorks describes responsible technology the active consideration of values, unintended consequences and negative impacts of technology. Responsible tech includes various voices in the adoption and deployment process, and seeks to manage and mitigate potential risk and harm to all communities affected by that technology.

The majority of survey respondents’ organizations a level of official policies in place for enacting responsible technology initiatives. Of respondents, 67% said their organization has methodologies, guidelines or frameworks for implementing specific types of responsible tech.

The reasons organizations are preparing to pursue responsible technology are to improve brand reception, increase attractiveness from investors and partners, develop more inclusive solutions, improve retention, regulation compliance, attract talent and manage risk.

Of course, there are barriers business leaders see with pursuing responsible technology. The main barriers to adoption are a lack of senior management awareness, organizational resistance to change and internal competing priorities.

A suggestion by the report, to overcome these adoption barriers, is to reassess company culture. For example, H&M Group employs a mixture of various methods to implement responsible AI and data practices, and the resources they use change frequently to meet the always moving target of industry developments.

Still, organizational motivations are not always sufficient to overcome barriers to change. But as the world usually sees with every advancement, companies tend to uncover unexpected benefits or areas of opportunity.

With responsible technology here to stay, organizations understand that failing to act on these issues comes with negative effects, and demonstrating responsible technology use is critical to counter the growing hostility toward big tech.

“Today’s business leaders are not only starting to understand the urgent need for the responsible use of technology but they’re also seeing the solid, enterprise-enhancing reasons for doing so,” said Dr. Rebecca Parsons, Chief Technology Officer at ThoughtWorks.

Edited by Alex Passett

Future of Work Contributor

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