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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Ethics Center, WEF Help Firms Operationalize Ethics in Technology

Responsible Use of Technology: The IBM Case Study/WEF

In collaboration with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has released their Responsible Use of Technology: IBM Case Study. This report represents another in a series of projects on which the Center has partnered with WEF and culminated in the Responsible Use of Technology Toolkit.

The Ethics Center was represented by the work of Brian P. Green, director of technology ethics, and Don Heider, executive director. Green noted he was struck by the work done by IBM to enable ethical AI and other technologies, saying that while it “doesn’t mean they’ll never face difficult challenges, it does mean that they are keeping their eyes open for ethical issues and have developed the theory and the practice to identify these challenges and be prepared for them.”

The IBM Case Study resulted in three major takeaways that serve as guidelines to all companies looking to incorporate ethical practices in their workplace. For those organizations, empowering employees to act ethically, operationalizing values and principles, and utilizing extensive partnerships to create widespread impact are essential. Through the model that WEF, IBM, and the Ethics Center have created, there is now a clear and proven pathway towards responsible, ethical technology. 

Green commented on the importance of the group’s desire to create a practical resource other organizations could use: "IBM knows that the reputations of tech companies rise and fall together, so they’ve created tools that identify ethically significant issues in their machine learning models and are sharing them freely."

Sep 28, 2021


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