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Best practices for navigating the ethical development and usage of technology: new report

Published: March 1st, 2021 By:

Ottawa, January 20, 2021— A new study by ICTC, Responsible Innovation in Canada and Beyond: Understanding and Improving the Social Impacts of Technology, examines the rapidly changing world of technology ethics and features recommendations for improving the social impacts of technology across industry, academia, government, and society.

Through daily interaction with digital technology, users, developers, policymakers, investors, and owners participate in the social impact of technology. Intentionally or unintentionally, they all make small choices about the ethical and safe use of these technologies. This report looks at the unintended social impacts, power imbalances, and human health and behavioural implications of various technologies.

Responsible Innovation in Canada and Beyond considers global efforts to propose common principles for improving the social impacts of technology. Interviewees who have experience in improving the social impacts of technology also provide guidance, such as extending innovation considerations beyond design and prototyping to include diverse hiring, ethical investment, and deployment; providing technology stakeholders with understandable and clearly defined goals; and minimizing the diffusion of ethical responsibility among designers, owners, and users of technology.

This study also includes the following:

  • Case studies of specific technologies and the successes and failures of efforts to improve their social impacts
  • A timeline of AI regulation in Canada
  • An examination of contact tracing apps
  • Two perspectives on public engagement in Toronto’s Sidewalk Labs project
  • A consideration of the labour market implications of automation

“As digital technologies continue to empower greater actions and decision making in our economy, they also introduce the potential for unintended consequences and harm. Ethical thinking and human-centric approaches in the design, development, and deployment of advanced technologies will yield greater outcomes for Canada’s economy and a more equitable society,” said Namir Anani, ICTC President and CEO.

ICTC is a not-for-profit, national centre of expertise for strengthening Canada’s digital advantage in a global economy. Through trusted research, practical policy advice, and creative capacity-building programs, ICTC fosters globally competitive Canadian industries enabled by innovative and diverse digital talent. In partnership with a vast network of industry leaders, academic partners, and policy makers from across Canada, ICTC has empowered a robust and inclusive digital economy for over 25 years.

For media inquiries or further information about Responsible Innovation in Canada and Beyond: Understanding and Improving the Social Impacts of Technology, please contact Paul Stastny at p.stastny@ictc-ctic.ca or 403.351.0138 Ext. 823.

This report was funded by the Government of Canada.

A copy of the study can be accessed here.

A French version of this press release is here.


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