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tech ethicist

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Tech ethicist is a corporate role that involves examining a company’s technologies to ensure that they meet ethical standards, that they do not exploit user vulnerabilities, for example, or infringe upon user rights. The term also refers to independent experts.

Although there is no standard education stream for tech ethicists yet, to fill that role an individual would need grounding in not only ethics and technology but also psychology, law and sociology, among other things. Tech ethicist David Polgar likes to compare the tasks of engineers and ethicists: Engineers see a problem and find a solution, after which the ethicist sees the solution and looks for problems.

Technology ethics is an increasingly important area of focus as the sophistication and capacities of technologies have advanced far ahead of concerns for security, privacy and the well-being of users. The humane tech movement seeks to change that focus to realign technology with humanity. As that movement develops, the demand for tech ethicists is likely to grow.

This was last updated in July 2019

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