The techlash has sparked a most welcome interest in the ethics of technology (there are hundreds of university courses on the subject!) and with it, a bustling cottage industry in the formulation and promulgation of "statements of principles" meant to guide technologists in their work.
The Copenhagen Letter is a set of five admirably compact and well-chosen principles that cover a lot of bases: democratic accountability; transparency and auditability; progress harnessed to public service; and an eye for the social dimension of technological decision-making.
Tech is not above us. It should be governed by all of us, by our democratic institutions. It should play by the rules of our societies. It should serve our needs, both individual and collective, as much as our wants.
Progress is more than innovation. We are builders at heart. Let us create a new Renaissance. We will open and nourish honest public conversation about the power of technology. We are ready to serve our societies. We will apply the means at our disposal to move our societies and their institutions forward.
Let us build from trust. Let us build for true transparency. We need digital citizens, not mere consumers. We all depend on transparency to understand how technology shapes us, which data we share, and who has access to it. Treating each other as commodities from which to extract maximum economic value is bad, not only for society as a complex, interconnected whole but for each and every one of us.
Design open to scrutiny. We must encourage a continuous, public, and critical reflection on our definition of success as it defines how we build and design for others. We must seek to design with those for whom we are designing. We will not tolerate design for addiction, deception, or control. We must design tools that we would love our loved ones to use. We must question our intent and listen to our hearts.
Let us move from human-centered design to humanity-centered design. We are a community that exerts great influence. We must protect and nurture the potential to do good with it. We must do this with attention to inequality, with humility, and with love. In the end, our reward will be to know that we have done everything in our power to leave our garden patch a little greener than we found it.