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The Digital Ethics Compass:
How Do We Develop Ethical Technology?

The project and design tool The Digital Ethics Compass empowers businesses to use ethics as a competitive advantage

This project is a part of our theme
Digital transition

“We must act carefully in the way we use data, otherwise it has the potential to do more harm than good”

Anne Kristine Schwartzbach

Founder and CEO, Konfront

A podcast with our CEO Christian Bason and digital strategist Peter Svarre on artificial intelligence was the catalyst for us to investigate the need for a tool or learning program that helps businesses develop a language and method for designing digital products that are ethical.

The Challenge: Negative side effects of digital technologies

Should we do it, just because we can?

Almost daily, we are presented with stories or analyzes that point to digital downsides – bias, inequality, manipulation, and polarization.

As a society and as companies, we have the responsibility of ensuring that it is us, the humans, who control the technology – and not the other way around. And we can do just that.

Because there are people – designers, developers, programmers – behind the design of algorithms, automation, data management, and our online behavior and engagement with digital products.

Here in Denmark, we have a long and strong tradition of putting humans at the center when we design innovative solutions. And it has proven to be good business whether we’re talking about urban, health, or green solutions – and regardless of whether you are a private or a public company. We have some incredibly good preconditions for also making humans the starting point when we develop digital products and solutions.

Ethics is not a legal requirement. Ethics begins where the law ends. Ethics is about asking yourself the question: Just because we can, should we? And that is why ethics is a competitive parameter. This is where you as a private or a public company can differentiate yourself – positively.

"The Digital Ethics Compass is an action-oriented and helpful tool. It has become a frame of reference that has given us a common language and some common models for incorporating ethics into the design of Howdy products. For us, continuing to use this tool makes sense"

Rasmus Hartung

CEO, Howdy

The Approach: Let the compass show the way

We’ve developed The Digital Ethics Compass with a range of Danish companies within Fin-, Health- and Mobility-tech and within digital design. The compass is a simple and practical tool and learning program that enables companies to build an ethical foundation for their future financial growth.

New products can be useful to mankind, but function sometimes comes at the cost of misinformation, political manipulation, or addiction to digital gadgets and services. In order for more companies to integrate ethics in their work while exploiting the growth opportunities of digitalization, our goal is to empower them to design products and services in new and improved ways.

Learning program prepares companies to act ethically

The hands-on practical learning program prepares companies to walk the talk, by working and developing ethical products and services. With the compass, businesses can work with practical issues, exercises, and challenges and learn how to maneuver the dilemmas of the digital world like data, algorithms, and nudging.  

Companies that complete the program and go on to implement the principles of the Digital Ethics Compass position themselves to become the frontrunners of digital solutions that put people first by prioritizing trust and safety. These are the companies poised to win in the long term.

“We’re part of this because as a company we deal with ethical issues on a daily basis. We want to create material that other companies can use and learn something from. Our hope is to be able to set a bar for working with concepts such as ethics in different organizations, knowing that we have our different contexts. I think it’s important that it becomes a competitive parameter that makes a difference for companies”

Oliver Langberg

Lead Designer, Corti

The Digital Ethics Compass in your company

Inspirational talk
1-2 hour talk and a followup discussion about digital design ethics. The talk will focus on how to get started with designing responsible ethical products in your company or organization.

1-2 days workshop
Your company or team will develop capacity and language to talk about and solve ethical dilemmas related to  your digital solutions. The workshop and the training will be based on one or more of your digital products. During the workshop you will develop action based solutions for better and more ethical digital products or services. 

Extended course
All companies have individual needs when it comes to strengthening their digital design ethics.

Some only need to change a few little design details, while others may need to change their design- and product development processes. 

This is why our design partners are available for shorter or longer extended courses, in which the insights from The Digital Ethics Compass are being tailor made for your company or organization. 

Interested in a cup of coffee and a talk about how you can work with The Digital Ethics Compass contact Christina Melander or one of the designpartners who has contributed to the development. 

Christina Melander

Program Director

Phone +45 2946 2922
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Do you want to hear more about how the compass might improve your business?

Can’t get enough of design and innovation? We hear you. And we have you covered.

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