3 Lessons in Tech Ethics from a Tech Giant – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Brian Green, Director, Technology Ethics, Santa Clara University, Emily Ratté, Project Specialist, World Economic Forum, Christina Zhang, Senior Director, Ethical and Inclusive Products, Salesforce, Rayce Smallwood, Content Specialist, Ethical and Inclusive Products , Salesforce


  • In the wake of data breaches and questions about surveillance and artificial intelligence (AI), it’s hard for tech companies to earn consumer trust.
  • Following case studies on Microsoft and IBM, the World Economic Forum Responsible use of technology the project community worked with Selling power dive deep into its journey towards more intentional innovation.
  • Responsible Use of Technology: The Salesforce Case Study shows how some of the most influential companies in the industry see their role in designing a reliable path for technology.

The more people live with technology, the less they seem to trust it. In the wake of data breaches, questions about surveillance, and increasingly consequential decisions made by artificial intelligence (AI), it’s no surprise that the average person’s relationship with tech companies is complicated. . But at one of the world’s largest tech companies, a dedicated team of tech ethics and accessibility experts are working to make it easier to believe that reliable technology is possible.

As part of an ongoing effort to understand how ethics, responsibility and action are evolving in the tech industry, members of the World Economic Forum Responsible use of technology the project community worked with Selling power dive deep into its journey towards more intentional innovation. Along with our reports on Microsoft and IBM, Responsible Use of Technology: The Salesforce Case Study shows how some of the most influential companies in the industry see their role in designing a reliable path for technology.

These are three critical lessons to learn from Salesforce’s experience with technology ethics and responsible innovation.

1. You can develop a great corporate culture if you lead with values

The elephant in the room with all ethics work is the reality that difficulty – and even crisis – eventually comes. At Salesforce, where using business as a platform for positive change has always been part of the corporate culture, it was real-world challenges that offered the opportunity to translate company values ​​into action. concrete. This took the form of both grassroots employee activism and management-level action. After an open letter written by an employee to the CEO expressing concerns about the company’s collaboration with US Customs and Border Patrol, Salesforce created the first-ever Office of Ethical and Humane Use.

Discover

How does the World Economic Forum ensure that artificial intelligence is developed for the benefit of all stakeholders?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting all aspects of society – homes, businesses, schools, and even public spaces. But as technology advances rapidly, multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed to maximize accountability, transparency, confidentiality, and fairness.

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Technology Governance: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning brings together diverse perspectives to drive innovation and build trust.

  • Human resources is an area of ​​work well positioned to leverage AI, including hiring, talent retention, training, benefits, and employee satisfaction. The Forum has created a toolbox Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence for Human Resources promote a positive and ethical use of human-centered AI for organizations, workers and society.
  • Children and young people today are growing up in an increasingly digital age where technology permeates every aspect of their lives. Of robot toys and from social media to the classroom and home, AI is a part of life. In progress AI Standards for Kidsthe Forum works with a range of stakeholders to create actionable guidelines to educate, empower and protect children and young people in the age of AI.
  • The potential dangers of AI could also impact society at large. To mitigate risks, the Forum brings together more than 100 companies, governments, civil society organizations and academic institutions from across Global Alliance for Action on AI to accelerate the adoption of responsible AI in the global public interest.
  • AI is one of the most important technologies for businesses. To ensure C-suite executives understand its opportunities and risks, the Forum created the Empowering AI Leadership: AI C-Suite Toolkitwhich provides practical tools to help them understand the impact of AI on their roles and make informed decisions about AI strategy, projects and implementations.
  • Shaping how AI is integrated into public sector procurement processes will help define best practices that can be applied across the private sector. The Forum has created a set of recommendations designed to encourage wide adoption, which will evolve with information from a series of trials.
  • The Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda worked with the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Innovation to promote the adoption of new technologies in the country, driving innovation in data policy and AI, in particular in health care.

contact us for more information on how to get involved.

2. You need a responsible innovation process you can trust

A core part of Salesforce’s approach is to turn ideas into processes that don’t depend on one person’s vision. Business starts with fundamentals and employee buy-in. From there, the teams prioritize connecting with consumers to keep their approach grounded in the real world. Insights from a dedicated advisory board, to help shape decisions, and centralized accountability within a dedicated ethics office, with a dedicated ethical use officer, enable the company to balance the need for perspective with the need for action.

A systems approach democratizes the work needed to make a sound and informed decision, considering a multitude of different backgrounds and perspectives when orienting business leaders. And, to work effectively, people need to be sure that relevant voices are heard, that the same principles guide every decision, and that there are clear channels of communication and feedback that leaders take seriously.

3. Operationalize the principles to foster impact and accountability

Scaling impact and accountability on the topics of technology ethics and inclusion requires shared responsibility across the many areas where product and process decisions are made.

Here are some ways to operationalize the principles: make room for diverse perspectives; have an easily accessible and enforceable product usage policy and guidelines; embed ethics into product design, rather than relying solely on after-the-fact reviews; educate and empower employees; and invest in multi-stakeholder collaboration across the industry.

Ultimately, Salesforce’s vision is to be increasingly proactive. While there’s no way to anticipate all risks, it’s easy to imagine the Office of Ethical and Humane Use as a weatherproof group. For them, making sure the proverbial building is built for any weather is as important as being able to predict a storm.

When the people who create and use the technology know that protecting their privacy, security, human rights and identity are essential parts of products and services – not fixes applied after damage -, Salesforce believes trust in technology can be restored.

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The path to follow

As we have seen now at Salesforce, IBM and Microsoft, responsible technology is already a priority. And, it’s likely to be at the forefront of more conversations as public awareness, regulatory attention, and academic research expand. Today, ethical considerations form the cornerstone of many consumer choices. For individual businesses and interconnected economies, success can depend on integrating responsible use into how products are imagined, designed, maintained and marketed.

But our case studies also show that no company handles these issues alone. By looking closely at the stories of organizations that aren’t shy about addressing tech ethics, we can learn a lot about how to shape the way forward. Each step may not be clear along the way, but moving forward with their peers, partners, and the people they serve, organizations can rely on a global community to keep them on the right path.

When we work together to choose our path, it is hopefully possible to make trust an intrinsic part of the journey.

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