Tristan GreeneEditor, Neural by TNW
Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him
It’s not like any of us went to a store for unethical people and told the clerk to load us up with dozens of products and services developed by companies that have no regard for personal privacy, human rights, or the future of our planet.
But here we sit. There’s a good chance that the company that makes your phone’s OS develops AI for the military and/or uses legal loopholes to avoid paying fair taxes. And, in the US, your phone carrier probably helped destroy net neutrality. Let’s not even get into the company you ordered your smart speakers from, who owns the email servers you use at home and work, and how the browser most people will read this story on is actively breaching their privacy.
But what can we really do about it?
Well, turns out there’s a few resources that can help. One of those is Ethical.net, an advocate site that’s curated a list of links to ethical companies. It has information on non tech-related things too, but its sections containing ethical alternatives to technology products and services is especially notable.
The companies listed are either independent, not-for-profit, open-source, or ethically-focused. That means you’ll see the usual names – Duck Duck Go, Firefox, Signal – you’ll also see lesser known alternatives for everything from team collaboration software to ethical game stores.
We may have painted ourselves into a corner with our reliance on big tech, ethically speaking, but the resources curated at Ethical.net provide a way out for those with the patience to try.
Extricating ourselves from our dependence on giant, dangerous companies is not only incredibly hard – big tech got big for a reason – but in many cases, it simply isn’t feasible. Most people aren’t tech luminaries or millionaire executives. We simply don’t have the option to tell our shift manager or department head that we won’t be using our work email anymore because it doesn’t suit our ethics.
The good news is that real change – the kind that’s going to save our planet and pressure the Ubers, Googles, and Amazons of the world to respect basic human dignity – doesn’t require everyone to take radical measures.
Just check out the page, click through a few sections, and see if you can find any alternatives to some of those services or products you use now that you wish you didn’t. Just by using ethical tech solutions you’re supporting their development. You can take things a step further by providing feedback to the developers – especially if its an open-source community. Finally, spread the word whenever you find an ethical alternative you like.
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