"Technological innovation has long been seen as a hallmark of progress in the modern world. While these advances may facilitate advantages to individual and social well-being, they have the potential for creating new areas of risk and for exacerbating those that already exist. In addition, a global pandemic has reshaped how we interact with one another, as more people connect online. Social work’s ongoing relationship with technology necessitates that we evaluate and re-envision how tech ethics create, shape, and transform social work practice...
The purpose of this conceptual paper is to explore if a tool such as the Ethical OS (Operating System) that can be a steppingstone to increased imagination, understanding and fluency in some of the ethical issues that are likely to appear in the social work practice landscape, and/or if social workers themselves seek to develop or amplify use of technology in a specific way. A further aim of this paper is to map out a conceptual, as well as practical, “tour” of the tool which would be an unlikely part of contemporary social work ethics discourse as evidenced by our very preliminary social work tech ethics “frame” at this moment in history. This tour is guided by and built upon social work values and ethics – and the authors approach the effort with curiosity...
This paper has three goals.
We provide recommendations for how social workers and clients alike can be adequately informed and empowered in an ever-evolving technological world."
"Collectively, the authors find the Ethical OS potentially useful with additional study and exploration in the intersectionality of the field of social work and technology. That said, the authors recognize that there are emerging additional frames and models that also merit attention and consideration for the social work profession (Gasser et al., 2020) – and that each of these frames and models have potential to enrich and strengthen ethical tech practices across the profession if used in a way that is guided by ethical social work or informed by the code of ethics (NASW, 2021). This exploration is preliminary and offers an orientation, not an endorsement, of the Ethical OS tool.
Accountability at all levels of practice is essential to social workers and their clients’ lives. As technology rapidly advances and expands its presence in social workers’ lives, the profession, and their practices, social workers need to be aware of how the technology was developed and the ethical considerations when using technology (Belluomini, 2013; Reamer, 2021; Young et al., 2018). Social workers can learn to exercise old but newly applied ethical muscles in this territory to avoid being co-opted into tech industry standards and/or committing ethics washing (Bietti, 2020). As technology is further integrated into our services, accountability to clients through transparent processes at micro, mezzo and macro levels is one step toward maintaining current ethical standards (NASW, 2021), all while considering the ways in which our profession can reimagine ways to remain as a guiding standard."