Ethical Leadership in Technology: Harmonizing Innovation with Integrity


Dr Manpreet Manna, Vice Chancellor, Chandigarh University

In today’s fast-paced world, technology plays an indispensable role in shaping our lives and transforming various sectors, including education. The positives of technology in education are undeniable. It enables personalized learning experiences, facilitates access to vast knowledge resources, and enhances collaboration among students and educators. Interactive learning platforms and educational apps offer personalized learning experiences, accommodating individual learning styles and preferences. Technology facilitates access to a wealth of information and resources, breaking down geographical barriers and democratizing education. Moreover, technology offers immersive learning experiences through simulations and virtual reality, making complex subjects more understandable.

Amidst these advancements, there are inherent risks and challenges, one notable concern is the potential for technology to exacerbate inequalities and feelings of inadequacy among students. Education should prioritize essential skills and competencies, tailoring the curriculum to the needs and aspirations of students. It’s essential to recognize that quality education extends beyond the confines of the curriculum, encompassing socio-emotional learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, which are vital for navigating an increasingly complex world. Technology should serve as a tool to enhance human potential and promote a more inclusive and equitable society. Rather than allowing technology to control us, we must try to be the masters of technology, using it responsibly and ethically.

The repercussions of pursuing innovation without ethical guardrails can be severe, eroding trust and tarnishing an organization’s market reputation. In April 2023, the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal received 700,000 complaints of online fraud through its 1930 helpline, with nearly 100,000 originating from Uttar Pradesh alone. This translates to approximately 23,000 cases per day and nearly 1,000 cases per hour. According to a survey by the Future Crime Research Foundation (FCRF), online financial fraud constituted 77.4% of cybercrimes reported between January 2020 and June 2023. The Reserve Bank of India reported that the amount involved in credit and debit card frauds rose to Rs 276 crore in 2022-23, up from Rs 119 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 155 crore in 2021-22. Additionally, the Karnataka home minister disclosed that the state had incurred losses of Rs 363 crore due to cyber fraud in 2022.

India’s advancements in internet accessibility, with 840 million individuals having a digital presence, coupled with the affordability of data and smartphones, have increased connectivity but also expanded the pool of potential cybercrime targets. Symantec’s research reveals a staggering 84% surge in the detection of deepfake videos online between December 2018 and December 2019, underscoring the swift proliferation of this technology. Deepfake technology has found application in various illicit activities such as fraud, extortion, and blackmail. Notably, a UK energy company fell victim to a €220,000 scam orchestrated through the persuasive impersonation of its CEO’s voice using deepfake audio.

Mahatma Gandhi’s timeless wisdom continues to resonate, offering profound insights into the ethical fabric of society. Gandhi’s poignant words — “Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality, worship without sacrifice” — serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of integrity, compassion, and moral responsibility in all aspects of life.

It’s imperative that technology aligns with our core values rather than diverging from them. The imperative to balance innovation with ethical considerations isn’t merely a suggestion anymore; it’s an absolute necessity. As technology leaders, it’s crucial to anchor ourselves to moral ethical principles, allowing them to shape our decisions, developments, and projects. Central to this ethos is consistently asking ourselves: Are our actions serving the best interests of our users and society at large? Cultivating a culture where ethical innovation thrives isn’t just desirable; it’s indispensable. As leaders, we set the tone for our students, encouraging the exploration of tough ethical questions rather than stifling them. This approach ensures that our innovations remain firmly grounded in ethical integrity. While the pace of technological advancement may tempt us to rush products to market, we mustn’t overlook the ethical risks involved. Conducting thorough ethical risk assessments for every project isn’t about hindering progress but rather ensuring that our trajectory leads toward a better future.

In a world shaped by innovation, ethical leadership is the linchpin ensuring that growth doesn’t come at the expense of our foundational values. By harmonizing innovation with ethics, we pave the way for positive change and sustainable progress. Let’s pioneer a path toward humanized technology, marrying innovation with an unchangeable dedication to ethics. While the journey ahead may be daunting, its pursuit is essential for the prosperity of organizations, individuals, and society as a whole. Our innovations aren’t just lines of code; they’re tools with the power to ethically and responsibly transform lives. So, let’s continue innovating, always mindful that technology shines brightest when it serves people and purpose seamlessly.


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