When you use or design technology for your organization, are you considering how it might impact others? Are the tools we use helping more than hurting? This question summarizes most of what tech ethics is. However, it might be an oversimplification of the broad scope of tech ethics.
The concept of applying ethics to technology is relatively new. However, the effect of tech ethics on developing technology and procedures is something you will be sure to hear more about in the following years.
Technology is advancing at a drastic rate when compared to previous centuries and has been for the past couple of decades. The result is that ethics and the human element behind technology are being forgotten or outstripped by the need to create better and better tech with greater reach. This isn’t intended to deny that technology is an amazing instrument that has exciting benefits for humanity, but to propose that a greater standard of consideration might be useful in the future.
Why Tech Ethics?
Behind the term “tech ethics” are professors and theorists who hope that developers will “…ideally design more thoughtful systems that reflect basic human values.” In a previous blog post, we discuss the importance of data privacy and how many hold it to be a basic human right. This applies to tech ethics too.
Tech ethics consider not just whether there’s the possibility to create a particular technology but whether we should. The hope of using ethics to think about the development of technology is to create a world where we benefit from human ingenuity and still enjoy a fulfilling life with these advancements. It’s a broad topic and can mean many different things, depending on the angle from which you’re examining the issue.
Tech Ethics in the News
It seems as though there’s a massive breakthrough in technology every day. In 2021, several scandals were attached to tech ethics, most involving data collection and privacy.
With advancing AI technology, facial recognition is progressing in almost quantum leaps. Human rights groups are concerned about the potential for AI technology and, in particular, facial recognition to be used for unethical or oppressive purposes.
The capacity for new technology to be used against humans is a significant aspect of tech ethics, but the discussion doesn’t end there.
Another scandal in 2021 was the purportedly unethical sourcing of materials for major tech companies like Microsoft, Tesla, Apple, and Dell. These leading companies were named in a recent case involving the deaths of children in cobalt mines where these companies bought some of their materials.
Why is it Important to Have This Discussion?
We’re beginning to look at technology not just as a simple tool like a hammer or a wheel but as something that requires deeper consideration. We use technology nearly constantly in our day-to-day lives. The impactfulness of this technology cannot be understated.
Tech ethics means looking deeper at some of the incredible technology that we’re capable of producing and questioning its long-term effects on humanity.
While most discussion involving tech ethics surrounds the matters mentioned above, unethical material sourcing and privacy infractions, another facet of creating ethical technology that should also be considered is the disposal of old technology.
Tech Ethics in Sustainability
While we grow into a more technologically advanced world, what are we doing with old tech models? At present, e-waste is a significant contributor to our world’s waste problems. While it only represents approximately 2% of trash in America’s landfills, tech waste often contains hazardous materials and it equals 70% of overall toxic waste in landfills.
Is Sustainability Part of the Design?
Currently, only 12.5% of electronic waste is recycled. This statistic is particularly significant when considering the massive amount of technology produced and the evidence that we will only be using more technology as years progress.
Tech ethics are applicable to the sustainability of the materials used in technology and whether corporations that produce and use these devices are taking into account their impact after they’ve become obsolete.
We hope to reduce e-waste and provide a more sustainable alternative to dumping old tech. Upcycle is an electronic waste disposal company. Our company offers a safe and reliable alternative to dumping e-waste. We recycle old technology and provide free pick-up for anything with more than 25 items.