We’re less than three weeks into 2020 and already we’ve seen Apple called out on their chequered past with human rights violations as Tim Cook awkwardly stared down the camera at the Golden Globes, a wave of glowing reviews for Anna Wiener’s highly anticipated explosive memoir exposing Silicon Valley, ‘Uncanny Valley’, the expansion of commercial pet cloning with Beijing company Sinogene seemingly leading the way – likely due to their low prices set at approximately £27k per cat, £38k per dog and £65k per horse.

Amazon’s Ring, as if being caught up in multiple multi-million dollar lawsuits over hackings wasn’t enough, have also had to start firing staff who have been caught spying on customers’ feeds this week and, in addition to that, Amazon have also had a failed attempt to silence climate change activists in their employ who are speaking out about the technology giant’s pursuit of big oil.

With so many ethical car crashes going on, it comes as no surprise that the most recent report from The Institute of Business Ethics cites that the British public believe fewer businesses are behaving ethically. Findings have revealed the three primary issues that people feel need addressing are:

 corporate tax avoidance,
 executive pay
 environmental responsibility

In May 2019, Karen Hao warned us that the AI gig economy was coming and at the end of the year released a call to action for people to stop just talking about changes in tech ethics and start implementing them. This was done whilst praising efforts towards the end of the year that saw companies like Apple invest more resources into protecting user privacy and Facebook & Google making promises to combat deepfakes.

There are so many negatives to focus on when it comes to ethics in tech and I’m aware the above reads like the beginning of a polemic but there are also people doing brilliant things to make our industries more ethical. It wasn’t until VentureFest North East in November that I saw just how many small businesses are doing great things in the North East as well as hearing the brilliant Kresse Wesling of Elvis & Kresse talk about her business, all the good they do, what they’ve achieved so far and what they plan to accomplish in the future.

It’s great to see organisations like The North East Initiative on Business Ethics exist and to be a part of this community, I look forward to becoming more involved as we move forward through 2020. I’m fortunate in that the company I work for, Nebula Labs, is full of incredibly talented people who have a strong ethical approach to working that reflects my own – but I’d like to end this on a simple call to action because I know it’s the same in other places of work.

I work in a building that has around 30 offices and no recycling facilities – the way I see it is that if someone can put the time and energy into cloning a horse, the least we can do is start recycling.

Cal Kilpatrick – Nebula Labs