By Constance de Leusse & Paul Fehlinger
How to build, invest in, deploy and regulate disruptive and emerging technologies such as Web3, artificial intelligence, quantum or computer-brain interfaces ethically is one of the greatest challenges of the digital 21st century. Despite a multitude of already existing frameworks and initiatives, practitioners feel that there is a lack of the equivalent of the 1.5°C target the climate sector converged on for responsible technology.
Project Liberty’s Institute in partnership with Aspen Digital are therefore launching a global consultative multistakeholder process to discuss and define a set of proposed operational “Ethical Principles for Responsible Technology,” and corresponding technology governance recommendations for policymakers, entrepreneurs/operators, technologists, and investors.
The joint global initiative embarks on a process in 2023 to map existing efforts and gather insights through five regional multi-stakeholder consultations across Latin America, Asia, Africa, North America and Europe.
These consultations will engage representatives from key entities spanning stakeholder groups: governments, international organizations, industry, investors, technologists, civil society, and academia.
Project Liberty’s Institute and Aspen Digital will synthesize the most promising ideas from across sectors, technologies and regions, and update with new and emerging challenges and solutions, in order to create a set of proposed operational ethical principles fit for purpose to guide practitioners in advancing responsible technology in 2024 and beyond.
The Project Liberty Institute together with Aspen Digital concluded a series of three impactful consultations as part of its global initiative "Ethical Principles for Responsible Technology" in San José, Costa Rica on June 5-6, 2023. The consultations took place on the sidelines of RightsCon, a leading global conference on human rights in the digital age.
These consultations brought together key stakeholders spanning governments, international organizations, industry, technologists, civil society and academia to foster dialogue and collaboration among diverse actors, with a focus on emerging and disruptive technologies such as Web3 technologies, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. The outcomes of these consultations are very significant as a first step in shaping the future of responsible technology.
Multistakeholder Engagement for a Vibrant Digital Future
Over the first week of June 2023, RightsCon provided a platform for Project Liberty Institute and Aspen Digital to engage a wide range of key stakeholders committed to a vibrant, safe, and collaborative digital society. Representatives from academia, industry, policymakers, technologists, and investors were invited by both institutes to discuss and define the proposed ethical principles. Building upon existing policy work, industry leadership, and advocacy efforts, these consultations synthesized the most promising ideas from various sectors and regions, with a particular focus on Latin America (LATAM), ensuring the principles remain relevant and effective amidst the rapid pace of technological innovation.
Eventually, these consultations will lead to a public report or whitepaper that details the entire process, approach, contributors, and inputs, while outlining the draft principles and corresponding governance priorities. The report will serve as a catalyst for a second phase of work, aiming to drive real-world adoption and action by engaging key actors in the digital technology ecosystem on a global scale.
Uniting Efforts through an Iterative Approach
Project Liberty Institute and Aspen Digital acknowledge the collective efforts of many pioneers and aim to build upon existing and ongoing accomplishments in the domains of ethical principles for technology.
Looking Ahead: Africa, North American, Asian and European Consultations
With the release of the first public version of the draft principles and recommendations scheduled for January 2024, the consultations have set in motion a transformative journey towards a responsible and ethical technology landscape. However, the success of this endeavor will depend on approaching this work with curiosity, humility, and a commitment to broad engagement. The road ahead presents an opportunity to translate these principles into a robust governance framework, driving tangible actions and fostering global adoption.
The three consultations held at RightsCon were a resounding success, exemplifying the spirit of collaboration, inclusivity, and shared responsibility necessary for shaping the future of responsible technology. As the global conversation gains momentum, the joint efforts of the Aspen Institute, Project Liberty Institute, and the diverse range of stakeholders involved will pave the way for a more ethical and accountable digital society. Together, we can ensure that technology serves as a force for good, empowering individuals, protecting human rights, and enabling a prosperous future.