Since the onset and spread of COVID-19, many communities, businesses and individuals have relied on some of the latest technologies. From telemedicine to teleconferencing to online learning, technologies have eased the challenges of working from home. The World Economic Forum has identified ten technology trends to watch during the pandemic, including digital payments, telehealth and robotics.
Advances in technology have also allowed researchers around the world to learn about the virus at an unprecedented rate. Researchers published the genome of SARS-CoV-2 just 24 days after the first confirmed death. Start-ups have raced to develop apps for contact tracing and sophisticated data dashboards. Regulatory agencies have fast-tracked drug and vaccine development.
While new technologies have enabled significant advancements in medicine, science and society, their use — and risk of misuse — raises important ethical questions. For instance, the benefits of technology must be considered in relation to their risks. Because the development of technology involves trade-offs and other decisions with ethical implications, technology and ethics are bound together.
The latest technologies, such as genome editing, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnologies, are in rapid development and growth. Their evolution is in flux and their implications for individuals, groups, societies, and the environment are not yet fully determined. At the center of ethical questions regarding these technologies are issues of balance — benefits vs. harms, as well as equitable access and fair distribution of risks.
The ability to identify and address these ethical questions is a highly valuable skill for those who influence technological development, including innovators and research organizations, funders and investors, professional and organizational leaders, and local and national policymakers.
An online course, developed and offered by CITI Program, looks at various technologies and their associated ethical issues and governance approaches. This course provides tools for leaders in research, medicine, academics, and technology to help anticipate and address the ethical issues related to technology development and implementation within their specialties.
Since technology is developing at a rapid pace, the course will evolve with new modules and topics to address these developments.