#teissLondon2020: Tech is Not Neutral and Needs Ethical Frameworks

At The European Information Security Summit in London, Dr Stephanie Hare, author of the forthcoming book Technology Ethics, reflected on the need for ethical frameworks in technology.

Technology ethics engages with a problem that no one has solved to anyone’s satisfaction, Dr Hare said. That problem is how we create and use technologies so that they deliver maximum benefit and minimum harm.

Technology is not neutral, she added, and technology ethics surrounds all of us, so “there is no such thing as being ‘neutral’ on technology ethics.

“Every time you want to introduce something, the positive effects may have negative effects elsewhere – so how do you balance that out and think it through ahead of time?”

An ethical lens is therefore vital in the production and application of technology, and whilst Dr Hare admitted that technical ethics is not the answer to all problems, it is a tool that can help create better technologies, involves everyone and aligns technology/people with key values.

“I’m an optimist,” Dr Hare concluded. “I think we can do better and there are a lot of good opportunities for technology to be a better source for society. Right now, we have to move beyond a ‘Hippocratic Oath’ for tech. This group [security professionals] in particular has so much to contribute to the next generation of computer engineers and scientists, to people looking to make a buck in tech, and to law makers who, with the best will in the world, don’t have time to develop expertise [in tech ethics] and so need a roadmap.”

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