By Sarah Drinkwater, Director, Omidyar Network
In the last few years, we’ve been excited and inspired by the rise of responsible tech workers asking hard questions, course correcting, and planning ahead for the implications of their products on people and society. From designers and engineers to product managers and founders, there’s a growing movement of passionate people committed to ensuring technology benefits and protects its users.
As we grapple with COVID-19, the racial inequities in our society, and the economic and political crises that followed, it’s clearer than ever that products must be built with responsibility — or safety, fairness, inclusion, and compassion — at their core. But the issues that require thoughtful examination — from AI bias to excessive data collection and exclusionary design — are complex and resist easy answers.
Sometimes, those of us who work in tech don’t know where to start.
And not all companies or teams have cultures that welcome open, thoughtful conversations about business or product decisions. Even at workplaces that encourage this kind of nuance, leading those efforts can be intimidating and feel like uncharted territory.
That’s why we built the Ethical Explorer Pack.
This toolkit is a direct response to the need we’ve seen and heard from makers and builders — as well as their collaborators — for a digestible, actionable resource to steward ethical tech. Created especially for workers at startups and small-to-mid-size tech companies (although we heard in testing that it can work for other kinds of companies, too), the Ethical Explorer Pack has been shaped by many brilliant partners from the community we’re serving and dozens of subject matter experts. The end result is a compass for pioneers who want to support ethical values in design, foster an inquisitive culture, and ignite positive change through dialogue.
So, what’s included?
Ethical Explorer is a DIY kit designed to spark group discussion, identify early warning signs, build internal support, and brainstorm solutions to avoid future risks. When you order or download the kit, you’ll receive:
- Field Guide: This overview of the Ethical Explorer Pack suggests activities and workshops for both individuals and groups, and ideas for starting the conversation and gaining buy-in within organizations.
- Tech Risk Zones: Eight Tech Risk Zone cards — plus one blank card to tailor to a specific need or scenario — can help provoke thoughtful conversations around risk, responsibility, and impact in key areas, such as surveillance.
- Stickers: Ethical Explorers who order the physical kit can outfit their gear with unique stickers to show off their passion for responsible tech that’s also more ethical and inclusive.
At Omidyar Network, we have a human-centered vision of tech that underpins greater individual and community empowerment, social opportunity, and safety. Our work, investing in and creating partnerships with like minds, has led us to the toolkit’s guiding principles: to support human values, create a culture of questioning, and ignite change through dialogue.
Building responsibility into core business and product decisions takes continual conversation and action. We encourage you, as a user of this tool, to make it your own; please evolve, experiment, and play.
Let’s start exploring.
And don’t forget to show your support for responsible tech by using the #EthicalExplorer hashtag.