Market Overview

Ethics in Tech: A New Resource


New tools from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics aim to help
technology companies embed ethical considerations into their workflow
and promote the development of ethical products and services

Financial Support Provided by Omidyar Network

Amid growing debate about their ethical responsibilities, some
technology companies are recognizing the urgent need for greater ethical
foresight in the development and deployment of their products. Today,
Santa Clara University's Markkula
Center for Applied Ethics
is releasing new materials to help such
companies embed ethical considerations and troubleshooting into their
development processes. The materials were funded by a grant from Omidyar
, the Silicon Valley impact investment firm established in
2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam.

The tools are authored by internationally renowned tech ethicist and
Santa Clara University professor Shannon Vallor (recipient of the
2015 World Technology Award for Ethics), in collaboration with Brian
director of the Technology Ethics program at the Markkula
Center for Applied Ethics, and Irina Raicu, who directs the
center's Internet Ethics program.

"Those who create products and services that become part of people's
everyday lives have long known that they must do better in considering
the long- and short-term ethical implications of their work," said
Raicu. "What they might not have known is how to operationalize that
awareness. This project aims to help them get started with a robust set
of tools and suggestions for ways to effectively implement them."

The suite of materials is called Ethics
in Technology Practice
. It includes a workshop teaching
guide, overviews of technology ethics and relevant conceptual frameworks
for ethical decision-making, case studies, an ethical toolkit for
integrating consideration of ethics throughout product development, a
sample workflow integration of the tools, and a list of best practices
in technology design and engineering.

For example, the toolkit walks users through methods to conduct "ethical
risk sweeping," or identifying moral potholes ahead; "ethical
pre-mortems and post-mortems" — identifying and preventing what are
often domino-like systemic failures; case-based analysis; and means of
identifying optimal ethical outcomes of a project.

"We liken ethical issues in technology to birds," said Vallor. "They are
varied and easier to spot by people working in groups, rather than
alone. And once you are attuned to seeing them, you realize they are

"Our team is co-creating solutions to help tech maximize its positive
impact and avoid unintended consequences," said Paula
, global lead of Omidyar Network's newly-established Tech
and Society Solutions Lab
. "We funded this work as an experimental
intervention with engineering talent in large tech firms because we feel
one of the best places to impact future products lies directly in the
hands of those writing lines of code."

The materials are available now under a Creative Commons license. Some
of them underwent pilot testing in a workshop at X
(formerly Google X), a part of Alphabet.

For more information on the Ethics in Technology Practice materials,
please go to

Omidyar Network's Tech
and Society Solutions Lab
draws on Omidyar Network's long-standing
belief in the promise of technology to create opportunity and social
good, as well as the concern about unintended consequences that can
result from technological innovation. The team aims to help
technologists prevent, mitigate, and correct societal downsides of
technology—and maximize positive impact.

About Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University

Founded in 1986 with a seed grant and initial endowment from Linda and
A.C. "Mike" Markkula Jr., the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics brings
the traditions of ethical thinking to bear on real world problems.
Beyond a full range of programs for the Santa Clara University
community, the Center also serves professionals in fields from business
to health care, from government to the social sector, providing
innovative approaches to problems from fake news to privacy protection.
Through its website and international collaborations, the Center brings
ethical decision-making resources to the wider world. For more
information see

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university
located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley,
offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in
arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master's degrees in
business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and
theology; and law degrees and engineering doctoral degrees.
Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among
all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating
higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of
ethics and social justice. For more information, see

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