For the majority of my career, more engagement, more stickiness, more data, more manipulation, and more breaking things were unequivocally more better. The last few years have been a collective sobering experience. As with any other advance, when unbounded, there are unintended1 consequences. Our manipulation, data collection, broken practices, and starry-eyed belief in the greater good of technology have slowly but surely caught up with us2.

The consequences are many. They run the gamut from deteriorating mental health through perpetuating socioeconomics to influencing elections. And, the world has woken up to it. As the people who build technology, it’s time we wake up as well.

My friends in the Copenhagen tech community have for the last three years hosted Techfestival., a celebration and discussion of the intersection of technology and humans. The first proud product was The Copenhagen Letter, a manifesto on ethical tech.

This year, the community shaped and published The Tech Pledge. A Hippocratic Oath of technologists, it’s a beautiful summary of the human values, we should all hold dear as we do our work. Of the twelve pledges, three resonate extra strongly with me:

… to take responsibility for what I create.

… to only help create things I would want my loved ones to use.

… to never tolerate design for addiction, deception or control.

Let’s move technology into the ethical era, together. Make The Tech Pledge.

  1. Unintended, undesired, ignored – your pick. Move fast and break things. 

  2. Most of these behaviors are not universally bad. An engaging piece of technology, that helps people do their jobs more joyfully is as honorable as anything.