This week’s Sunday Rewind harks back to 2020 and a short series Mind the Product produced on the risks associated with predictive tech, and potential routes forward for product people as they consider how to deal with the ethical issues associated with designing products.
It examines the waning trust in tech companies in the wake of poor performance by predictive tech and the industry’s apparent inability to govern itself. There’s a robust body of evidence to suggest that, of all business variables, trust has the most disproportionate impact on the bottom line.
Product people need to put themselves front and centre in the search for trustworthiness. They can be an immensely powerful and influential community in the ethics debate because they get to decide what a product ends up looking like. One commentator also observes that ethics issues are magnified in AI because of the application of heavy-duty maths that lay people don’t understand and the use of data as an approximation for the real world.
There’s an increase in interest from tech companies in developing codes of ethics or ethics frameworks, but typically most organisations have a lacklustre approach to ethics.
The article finishes with a look at what product managers can do to get started in what is a big and often overwhelming topic:-
Don’t reinvent the wheel – Look at what philosophers and ethics practitioners have said about the use of technology and its role in society.
Marshal grassroots support – In general, people want to behave in an ethical way, and to do good, so getting support should not be difficult.
Review how you handle data – You’ll probably see opportunities to do things in a more ethical and inclusive way.
Codify your standards – There are a number of published frameworks that companies can use to help put their ethics guidelines into practice
Read the original article: Predictive tech and data ethics: Part 1 – the pros and cons