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Business can no longer afford to ignore tech ethics and this is Why

There is a huge cost associated with using new technology without weighing social impact that companies need to take seriously.




The Covid-19 Pandemic seems to have justified the uptake and use of various technologies. For example, technology enabled business meetings and conferencing, advanced artificial intelligence, among others have become the new normal for businesses.

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While the use of these technologies has been great in moving businesses forward during these difficult times, there is a need to explore both the long term and short term implications of such technologies not just on the bottom line but on individuals in organisations. As the saying goes “desperate times often call for swift and sweeping solutions”. However, the implementation of technologies without regard for their impact is risky and increasingly unacceptable to wider society. It should be anticipated that business leaders of today and the future who purchase and deploy such systems face costly repercussions, both financial and reputational id they fail to consider and incorporate the human factor and the ethics of Technology.  Join our Premium Articles Family to gave access to all our articles 

Though Tech ethics is a relatively new field, it continues to suffer from perceptions that it is either the domain of philosophers or PR people. However, this could not be further from the truth — as we progress into the pandemic, there is a growing need to map out the potential harms from technologies.

For example, while many companies now use biometrics such as facial-recognition systems to check who is entering their buildings, how many people are wearing masks or whether social distancing is being observed there remains ethical challenges with biometrics. Historically, facial recognition has long been plagued by accusations of racial biases. Research in the US points to several errors of the system related to false matching and disproportionately matching people of colour to crimes incorrectly. 

The second ethical question is that of expansion of the scope of the data collected, whereby such data can be shared post pandemic with other organisations for other uses other than the primary purpose for which the data were collected.

One can therefore argue using the example of biometrics and facial recognition that Covid, has accelerated the need for tech ethics in business.

Another area is that of tracking employees in the name of productivity tracking, sometimes if used without employee knowledge or consent pose serious ethical questions.  Beyond the pandemic, there are further questions about the adoption of automated decision-making — algorithms that make decisions on loans, jobs and more.

There is an urgent need for companies to note that treating the adoption of technology in an ethical manner is not an optional extra but is going to be a business imperative in the adoption of technology post the pandemic. There is a sustainable return on the ethical adoption of technology for businesses now and in the future.


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