Learning from tech leaders: The social responsibility of scaling up
In the rapidly evolving tech landscape, the subject of social impact is more than just a footnote; it’s a crucial aspect of corporate decision-making. Through our work at always possible, we regularly engage with tech leaders to better understand the principles they’re applying as they grow their businesses. Here’s what they’re telling us to be mindful of:
One key insight is the universal reach of technology. Tech leaders are increasingly aware that innovations aren’t confined by geography or social strata. Understanding local contexts and needs becomes pivotal when 40% of the world’s population still isn’t online.
Tech leaders are increasingly cognizant of the speed at which the industry is evolving, often leaving ethical considerations behind. The growing call to pause certain AI developments illustrates this point – whatever you think of the motive. It’s still a signal that there’s a need to marry technical progress with a robust ethical framework, not just to comply with regulation but also to create technology that genuinely serves the greater good.
Bandwidth isn’t merely a technical specification; it’s a social equity issue. Leaders in the sector are contemplating the environmental and social implications of demanding more and more data transfer. Striking a balance between cutting-edge features and accessibility for those with limited bandwidth is an ongoing challenge, but it’s one worth confronting.
The importance of data integrity and user privacy is another recurrent theme. As businesses collect increasing amounts of data, respecting user privacy through GDPR and other policies is not just a legal obligation but an ethical one too. However, tech leaders caution that we should not lose sight of the powerful good that can come from using data wisely, such as creating personalised experiences or predictive health outcomes.
In a world where misinformation spreads like wildfire, tech leaders advocate for a more rigorous definition of ‘facts’. For any AI or algorithmic model to be ethical and effective, it needs to draw from a well of agreed-upon, unbiased data. We might be far from that universal agreement, but recognising the issue is the first step towards solving it.
Many tech leaders we’ve engaged with emphasise that their tools are more than just ones and zeros; they carry with them a significant social footprint. Understanding this footprint, and acting responsibly in light of it, will be the hallmark of companies that not only succeed financially but also make a lasting, positive impact on society.