We’re in the midst of a technology revolution that’s having an unprecedented impact on businesses, society and people at large. The sophistication and interconnectivity of new technologies is leading to greater pace of change than ever before, with businesses in almost every sector needing to evolve rapidly if they’re to stay ahead.
Like those before it, this next generation of technology, known as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, can be a powerful force for good. Innovations such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and blockchain have the potential to tackle some of the most challenging problems of our time, from climate change and resource depletion to inequality and disease. They’ll also be a driver of economic advancement, for the UK and beyond.
But these same technological advances could have unintended consequences, accelerating risks to the Earth and society if they are not designed and scaled in a smart and sustainable way. What is required, therefore, is a balanced, responsible approach.
"We hope our new policy will provide our people and other organisations with a framework that prompts them to consider the impact that technology can have on society in their everyday decisions. We expect the policy to evolve over time but believe it provides a useful checklist of principles and actions that can help steer us through the technological transition ahead. "
Technology is a key part of our strategy – both as an enabler for our business, and as a proposition to help our clients achieve their goals. So we’ve developed a ‘responsible technology’ approach which looks to maximise the positive impacts while minimising any negative ones.
We’ve established a series of commitments and actions that will help showcase the positive role of technology, as well as mitigate potentially adverse social, ethical and environmental concerns across our supply chain, operations, people agenda and client work. These are set out in a new, responsible technology policy, supported by our Executive Board and highlighting four areas for action: jobs and skills; health and wellbeing; privacy, security and integrity; and environmental protection.
Given that technology is a fast moving sector, and the issues and opportunities associated with it are still evolving, we will review the policy regularly to ensure it’s up to date, and seek the views of others, contributing to a better collective understanding of the role of business in relation to technology.
"Technology can play a significant role in tackling the intractable issues of our time such as inequality, climate change and sustainable growth. But it will only do so if we proactively harness it as a force for good, for example deploying it to the Sustainable Development Goals.'
A responsible technology approach differentiates our technology-related client propositions, both through our work to highlight how technology can be a force for good, and by taking actions to tackle adverse impacts of technology on people and planet. It’s part of our overall responsible business agenda and demonstrates how we are leading by example - anticipating and raising awareness of important problems where business can play a positive role.
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Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom