Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have many worried that technology is becoming fatally disruptive, not just creatively so. The recent examples of unethical technology development are all around us, from the misuse of environmental DNA to examples of digital distortion that go around the world before the truth can put on its trousers.

The role that ethics will play in this brave new world, and what it portends for human welfare, was the topic of a recent Wisconsin Technology Council luncheon in Madison. So was the role that a new Responsible Innovation Hub established by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery will play in ethical technology development. Jo Handelsman, director of the WID, was joined by UW–Madison colleagues Jon Eckhardt and Krishanu Saha to discuss how the hub will impact university-driven entrepreneurship and technology transfer.

The term “creative destruction” often accompanies innovation, especially when that innovation develops so quickly that regulations can’t keep pace. Fortunately, one thing the WID has going for it is a multidisciplinary approach to research, which according to Saha means that scientists, engineers, bioethicists, and others will be included in technology development conversations. When applying an interdisciplinary approach, the hope is that institutions can prevent new discoveries from going off the rails in much the same way that diverse voices improve business performance.

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