Responsible use of Technology: the Microsoft case study
Published on the 25th February 2021
Published by World Economic Forum. This White Paper, with its focus on Microsoft Corporation, highlights tools and processes that facilitate responsible technology product design and development. The document is the first in a series that seeks to investigate how companies have begun to incorporate ethical thinking into the development of technology. Its lessons can help organizations advance their own responsible innovation practices, and may even inspire others that have created new methods in pursuit of ethical technology to share their work, either in this series or elsewhere.
Our society is undergoing a Fourth Industrial Revolution,
1 in which powerful technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and augmented reality have the potential to create lasting societal benefits. However, without the right guard rails, these technologies can also cause immense harm. Organizations have a responsibility to design, develop, procure, deploy
and use technologies in a responsible manner. As an initial step towards more responsible innovation, dozens of groups from industry, civil society and government have published ethical technology principles, particularly on AI.
2 These values and frameworks offer a foundation for what responsible technology innovation outcomes might look like. Yet the need to define how technology products can be ethically made remains.
3 This paper is the first in a series of case studies that investigate how companies have begun to incorporate ethical thinking into the development of technology. It focuses on Microsoft Corporation and will be followed by papers describing efforts in other companies. Through a series of interviews with Microsoft executives and employees, combined with secondary research, this paper presents an outside perspective of Microsoft’s current and evolving efforts to build on the ethical values and culture of the company
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