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A call to technologists to ensure that responsible outcomes arise from their innovations

Aaditeshwar Seth (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, India)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 4 January 2021

Issue publication date: 4 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is to encourage technologists, those who design and manage technology systems, to collectivize and get closely involved in defining the priorities of their organizations, their countries, and the world, so that responsible outcomes can arise from their labour.


The author examines this problem from three viewpoints: From a design perspective about what is missing in most design practices to build information systems that undesirable outcomes still happen; from an ethics perspective about how to incorporate values in building and managing information systems; and from a political economy perspective about why ensuring responsible outcomes from technology is not easy. The author describes several limitations faced by technologists in achieving this, ranging from gaps in the design methods in use currently, a piecemeal approach to following ethical principles in the design and management of technologies, influence of the organizational culture and structure and the wider political economy of technology itself.


The author suggests several measures to address these challenges and conclude with a call to technologists to collectivize and engage politically to influence their organizations and governments to invest in meaningful objectives for a just and equitable world, and design and manage the solutions in ethically consistent ways.

Research limitations/implications

It is argued that a new paradigm of information systems is needed for digital platforms, which is grounded in ethics-based guidelines that should be followed by the designers and managers of these platforms to help ensure responsible outcomes.

Practical implications

Having such a paradigm is especially important in today’s winner-takes-all digital platform era because these platforms are governed by only a few people; therefore, it is imperative to build guardrails to responsibly manage these platforms, and to have technologists who design and manage these platforms to play a role in their governance.

Social implications

Information systems have the potential to alter power relationships in society, and it is suggested that they should be designed to empower the weak.


To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is a unique perspective that draws from his personal experience as a researcher and practitioner designing technologies for social good, and examines the problem from many different viewpoints.



Seth, A. (2021), "A call to technologists to ensure that responsible outcomes arise from their innovations", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 268-279.



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