The new hot topic in technology these days is ethics.
Now I’m sure you have questions like, what does that mean? How does it impact the world of nonprofits? Should you be concerned about your bitcoin being held by a mysterious figure that no one knows? Well, we’ve got answers! And they’re in a numerical list!
1. Data sh-mata!
Now that all of our data has been leaked, and our social security numbers are out in the wind, we don’t have to worry about keeping things secure anymore! Right? Eh…
Turns out, people are still pretty mad about that whole thing so unfortunately, you’re going to have to take some steps to keep your organization secure. Like teaching everyone about how to avoid phishing scams. And explaining how phishing is not the same thing as fishing. And then being forced to write it down because the conversation got really confusing.
2. We can use these tools to do good. Like, who would get mad about that?
Again, no. Now that everyone’s realized you can hyper-target people on social media for nefarious purposes like convincing my mom to buy Uggs or destabilizing American democracy, doing it for a good reasons still feels kinda icky. Like... imagine if someone gave you vanilla ice cream. But when you licked it, instead of tasting a sweet, cool treat, you got a mouth full of your entire sense of safety being violated. You might give the next ice cream cone some serious side eye, even it it was really vanilla.
TBH though, we probably shouldn’t have that kind power anyway. Batman didn’t even want that power. He made a very heavy handed point about it in the movie.
3. But what about moving fast and breaking things?
Look. I know tech companies have notoriously been uninterested in asking questions like, “What could possibly go wrong if we train robots to identify faces and use knives?” But that’s the would-not-should crowd. They have billions of dollars in funding an army of lawyers to sweep the robo-face incident under the table.
You know what we have? Hyper-partisan political funding that will get slammed shut the minute someone questions the wisdom of bringing a live panda to a fundraising event.
We can’t risk being unaware that our biggest donors is also part of a Chinese panda cloning conglomerate. So, unfortunately, instead of moving fast and breaking things, we’re going to have to move at a reasonable pace and wrap things in bubble wrap. Is it annoying? Yes. Is there anything we can do about it? Also, yes.*
*Give us billions of dollars in funding and a lawyer army. Preferably one that has a flag with a sweet symbol on it. Like a wolf, with bat wings.
4. People. Who needs ‘em?
We live in a data-driven world, and you know what’s definitely not data? Ted, the intern. Sure, that guy might have a Ph.D. in parsing through the technical ins and outs of inequitable wealth transfer and the rise of totalitarian governments in the ex-soviet block. But, you know what we have? Spreadsheets. Who cares if we don’t know what they say–confidence gets grants, not Ph.Ds.
Oh wait. No, that’s the tech community again. We totally still need Ted. Also, when we pay him enough to start chipping away at his student loans people are going to think we’re spending money unwisely because we’re supposed to be heroes who take a vow of poverty when we try to make the world a better place.
In no way are those messed up priorities.
5. Well, what now?
So, admittedly we have some problems we’re up against. You’re probably disheartened. How can we in the nonprofit world do anything if we’re being dragged down by rules that only seem to apply to us? First, follow the Twitter account @EverythingGoats. Just, spend some time there basking in the glory that is baby goats.
Now that you feel better, where do we go? Do we band together? Set up rules which we can all live by? Try take the best of for-profit models and apply them to our nonprofits? Fight to change the paradigm that you have to be poor if you work in a nonprofit? We could do that. But that’s hard and takes a lot of work. Luckily, we can all just sit back and relax.
Why, you ask?
Because big tech is actually doing our work for us! No founder of a big tech company is in this for the money. They’re here to disrupt our thinking! To make the world a better place! They drive this point home at every shareholder meeting and make it part of the company culture. They’re here only to change the world. Nothing else.
Sure, there’s potentially billions of dollars waiting for them if their tech goes viral, especially if it can be exploited by advertisers. Luckily for us, tech founders are basically kind-hearted good-doing nerds who only motivated by the work. They’re just bending the market to their will and make the world a better place! Good thing too. If they had that much power and could have their decisions swayed by financial rewards, how terrifying would that be? Can you imagine?
6. Wait, didn’t you say something about Bitcoin?
Oh, yeah! You should absolutely be concerned about your bitcoin. It’s probably not going to rise back to price it was when you bought it. Sorry.