Building an Ethical Framework for UNDP's Accelerator Labs
We at the UNDP are looking for a process that helps us develop a framework that is “owned” and adopted by the AccLab network. It should initially be lightweight in its use and offer opportunities to refine and adapt to local needs and unforeseen activities or practices. Instead of prescribing the guidelines, we believe it will be far more effective to co-create the framework with the stakeholders involved.
Currently, we are thinking about a framework that is question-based, enabling and supporting reflective conversations with a team and their stakeholders (from e.g. governments, local communities, private sector).
We are currently thinking about organising the framework around three activity areas:
1. Using technology and data (dilemmas or questions using artificial intelligence, data and privacy)
2. Engaging with communities (dilemmas or questions that arise from ethnographic research, solutions mapping, intellectual property)
3. Testing solutions (dilemmas or questions that arise from experimentation, running trials)
We are open to suggestions with how this framework might take shape and would like your help in crowdsourcing an ethical framework for UNDP's Accelerator Labs. We have partnered with All Tech Is Human, an organisation that unites multiple stakeholders committed to improving the process of technology development and deployment, to assist in this crowdsourcing effort.
Help us build an ethical framework by providing insight and feedback
Development is in a crisis. Traditional approaches to development are struggling to keep up with today’s social and environmental challenges. Many of these challenges are growing exponentially. The speed, dynamics and complexity of today’s social, economic and environmental problems are fundamentally different from previous eras in history.
Our current approaches are making progress against 20th century challenges -- but not enough progress against 21st century challenges. Effectively addressing 21st century challenges doesn’t just require new solutions. It requires new strategies for understanding these challenges as they unfold. It requires new approaches to identifying solutions. It requires addressing not just the problem in front of us but the broader environment that led to this problem.
UNDP’s answer to that is to set up a network of 60 Accelerator Labs. The Accelerator Labs are UNDP’s new way of working in development. They will be serving 78 countries and work together with national and global partners to find radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges.
Finding radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges:
How do we adapt to change?
In order to adapt to the pace of change, we need to accelerate learning to create better and real time intelligence of what is going on. It means we need to tap into new skill sets, inputs and a pool of talent that often doesn’t have a job title. These skill sets involve three competence areas: sensing, exploring and testing.
Each competence area has its own signature method – some of them are fairly well codified and established, while others are more emerging.
1. SENSING builds on a method that is referred to as portfolio sensemaking: map out the current portfolio of activities to identify patterns and opportunities to leverage connections.
2. EXPLORING builds on solutions mapping to find solutions and workarounds people in local communities have developed to a challenge and to identify latent needs and emerging issues. Exploring also uses elements of collective intelligence to generate new understanding.
3. TESTING involves the design of tests, to quickly learn what works and what doesn’t, and setting up a portfolio of experiments to intervene at multiple points to shift systems.
Underneath these three competency areas lies a collection of tools and techniques that are referred to as collective intelligence design, which builds on tapping into uncommon data sources and inputs, using the power of the crowd and technology to become smarter together and develop new forms of public accountability.
1. Portfolio Sensemaking
2. Collective Intelligence
3. Solutions Mapping
4. Portfolio of Experiments
We are not limited to these four methods. In reality we see that labs often use elements of a broad range of methods. So, it is likely that the labs will use a host of other methods – basically any means necessary to accelerate learning – which help the teams, their partners and wider ecosystem to create new knowledge by:
*increasing diversity (tapping into diverse sets of knowledge)
*novelty (tapping into new knowledge)
*proximity (drawing people in with insights who are closest to the problems we are addressing)
Additional methods – or elements (tools, techniques) thereof – may involve: systems thinking, futures & foresight, design thinking, data driven innovation, behavioural insights etc.
Over the past six months we had numerous conversations with experts on these methods. We also ran a couple of action learning tracks on collective intelligence and solution mapping, to demonstrate the value of these methods as well as testing a prototype of a learning offer. During these conversations, and learning activities, various issues were raised. For example, if we engage with communities and find solutions that help them to address a development issue, and a big corporation picks up on these ideas, who owns the intellectual property rights on these solutions at the end, who should be benefiting from any financial revenue streams? Or, what if we track people’s movements through mobile phone data to get real time data on people’s movements and prevent diseases from spreading (e.g.
), what is more valuable? People’s privacy? Or people’s lives?
With these questions in mind, and a few more, we sense there is a need for an ethical framework to guide the AccLab teams and their partners in their decisions.
The most obvious thing to do would be to develop a guidebook that is pushed down from the top. Yet, we believe this is not the way to go because thorny ethical issues don’t always have a right answer.
*Firstly, the teams will be working in very different parts of the world, where cultural norms and values might be very different. What is acceptable in one region, may not be acceptable in another.
*Secondly, we are putting together various methods into a new practice, which means this practice involves an amalgamation of various ontological, epistemological, axiological and methodological assumptions, where different ethical framework may not necessarily be compatible.
*Thirdly, we feel it is important that the AccLabs own the ethical framework. Instead of prescribing the guidelines, we believe it will be far more effective to co-create the framework with the stakeholders involved.
Our ethical framework should offer opportunities to refine and adapt to local needs and unforeseen activities or practices. How can we best accomplish this?
We are currently thinking about organising the framework around three activity areas: 1. Using technology and data (dilemmas or questions using artificial intelligence, data and privacy) 2. Engaging with communities (dilemmas or questions that arise from ethnographic research, solutions mapping, intellectual property) and 3. Testing solutions (dilemmas or questions that arise from experimentation, running trials). Is there an additional activity area you would add?
Currently we are thinking about a framework that is question-based, enabling and supporting reflective conversations with a team and their stakeholders. What else should we keep in mind when developing our framework?
It is important to us that the ethical framework being developed is “owned” and adopted by the AccLab network. What ways do you advise we can improve the adoption rate and feelings of ownership by the AccLab network?
We have identified four methods/protocols to focus on: portfolio sensemaking, solution mapping, experimentation and collective intelligence. Are there any other methods we should be focused on?
Are there any ethical guidelines or frameworks that have been particularly effective? Why have they been effective?
We would like to include additional resources to assist this process of co-creating an ethical framework for AccLab. What resources should we include?
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