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Thoughtworks Partners with United Nations on Responsible Approach to Emerging Tech

Thoughtworks Partners with United Nations on Responsible Approach to Emerging Tech

Thoughtworks (NASDAQ: TWKS), a global technology consultancy that integrates strategy, design and engineering, today announced collaborating with the United Nations to launch a responsible approach to emerging technology creation and management for the UN. The co-created Responsible Technology Playbook provides practical guidance on ways for UN teams to adopt responsible practices. 


In line with the UN Secretary-General’s Strategy On New Technologies, the United Nations Secretariat worked together with Thoughtworks to provide guidance on ensuring inclusivity, awareness of bias, transparency and the mitigation of negative unintended consequences in examining emerging technologies, including generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). Following a series of interviews and workshops with a wide range of United Nations staff, the Thoughtworks and UN team developed a framework and set of approaches for the responsible creation and management of technology systems and products.


“When we use new technologies to help create a better world, we want to make sure it does not have side-effects that go counter to our values and intentions”, said Lambert Hogenhout, Head of Data, Analytics and Emerging Tech, United Nations. “The primary goal of this Thoughtworks partnership has always been to establish an approach and identify tools and techniques that UN staff can practically adopt. Yet the secondary goal, to inspire the broader global community to adopt Responsible Tech principles and practices, is also very exciting.” 


As it will be a collective and collaborative effort across the United Nations Secretariat’s diverse groups and roles to influence technology projects today while also creating the capacity to monitor and respond to future risks, the Responsible Technology Playbook addresses a wide range of stakeholders ranging from senior leaders, policy makers to developers. The emphasis is on participatory best practices, tools and techniques that everyone — not just technology specialists — can use and benefit from as they increase their understanding of how technology interacts with society. 


Addressing the areas that have the greatest potential to impact individuals, their communities and society, the Responsible Technology Playbook focuses on: 

  • A Responsible Tech Mindset - First and foremost, awareness of the potential harm that can be caused by action, or inaction. Constant consideration of the user, and how tech systems, products and even features can lead to unexpected, and unintended consequences.

  • Sustainability: Exploring the areas of sustainable tech, with a deep dive on creating tech that has a lower environmental impact over its lifetime.

  • Data and AI: The emergence of generative AI tools makes it increasingly hard to distinguish between real and fake. Combating misinformation and disinformation in the age of big data and generative AI has to be a priority for ‘trusted’ organizations.

  • Privacy: As a basic human right, privacy is a key enabler for diversity and inclusion. Without awareness of privacy concerns and an enshrined privacy risk management culture, it is impossible to maintain good privacy practices that mitigate the potentially harmful consequences of improper data processing, storage or transmission.

  • Accessibility: Accessibility was originally intended to design products and places with a focus on people with disabilities. Now accessibility focuses on identifying exclusion, learning from diversity and extending solutions to all. 

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): By incorporating varied perspectives and lived experiences, we’re better able to solve for the needs of our users. DEI has the power to create positive social change and help anticipate unintended consequences.

  • Security: Protecting the United Nations’ data, resources and reputation is vitally important. As the organization stores, processes and shares more and more sensitive information electronically, preventing breaches is paramount. 


“By establishing a framework of best practices that puts ethics and responsibility first, the United Nations is rising to the challenge of tapping into digital technology’s potential to transform society,” said Dr. Rebecca Parsons, Chief Technology Officer — Emerita, Thoughtworks. “Thoughtworks has been a strong advocate for organizations to adopt a Responsible Tech mindset, recognizing that in our ever-evolving, omni-present digital landscape, it’s crucial to harness technology’s potential for extraordinary impact while fostering inclusivity, awareness of bias and transparency for the benefit of all.”


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About Thoughtworks

Thoughtworks is a global technology consultancy that integrates strategy, design and engineering to drive digital innovation. We are over 11,500 people strong across 51 offices in 18 countries. For 30 years, we’ve delivered extraordinary impact together with our clients by helping them solve complex business problems with technology as the differentiator.


Media contact:

Linda Horiuchi, global head of public relations 

Email: linda.horiuchi@thoughtworks.com

Phone: +1 (646) 581-2568