The public places a significant amount of trust in today’s technology firms. These companies store personal data, let cars drive themselves, and get people the latest news and events online. Technology permeates and influences every sphere of human existence. Adopting a code of ethics is one way tech firms can demonstrate to the public that they have their best interest in mind.
You don’t have to go too far back to find incidents where tech organizations didn’t act with a customer’s interests in mind. Major firms like YouTube and Volkswagen faced public criticism and litigation recently for a lack of development ethics that bordered on criminal behavior.
Not to mention Cambridge Analytica’s role in manipulating voters using social media. These all go to show that there is a need for universal ethical standards. Besides, it’s still common for technological innovators to follow the “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” mantra. To deserve the public’s trust, technology companies need to adopt a set of ethical principles that inform their development and design lifecycles.
As a software developer or technological innovator, the work you do and the products you build directly affect the world. The principles used during the analysis, specification, design, development, testing, and finally, maintenance of software or products should ultimately benefit the end user.
The code of ethics technology professionals follow should go beyond what legislation dictates. You should anticipate what your actions could lead to and how it advances or undermines the public interest.
Ethical development shares many principles with design thinking. It requires you to empathize with the user’s experience, wellbeing, and safety. Ethics in technology attempts to go further by understanding the effects technology will have on human populations.
The principles of integrity, quality, service, and accountability should inform every decision you make when designing, building, and releasing new products. Building products deserving of the public’s trust should be a priority for any modern tech firm. And publishing your code of ethics is the first step to operating your technology company responsibly.
If you would like to discuss our ethical development standards, get in touch with the Development Ethics and Values Society (D.E.V.S.) today.