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Why RDD?

The widespread use of information technologies has, no doubt, significantly impacted our lives in the last decade or two. While many are enthusiastic about the prospects of further spread of digital devices, services and platforms, there is an increasing number of voices that raise concerns. Hardly a day goes by that we do not read about cautionary tales of how IT has harmed the rights of people.

"...they ignore the very real harm done by their products on a in the here and now."

Regulators have taken note, not least since the widespread diffusion of data-driven applications and machine learning. Efforts are well underway to subject the IT industry to the kind of regulation that it has long attempted to avoid. Interest in "tech ethics" is surging. At the same time, the frantic speed of innovation seems to causing even some captains of the IT industry to think again - though they locate the risks in the far future where an all-powerful AI threatens the very existence of humanity. At the same time, they tend to ignore the very real harm done by their products in the here an now.

" does not take whizzbang AI technologies to adversely affect the rights of people"

It is no secret that it does not take whizzbang AI technologies to adversely affect the rights of people, especially of those who are, in one way or another, more vulnerable than we would all like to be. Much more mundane systems have been used for a long time to discriminate and exclude, to exploit or simple to ignore the legitimate interests of people. There have been reactions to this, not least in the form of various drives to make computing "more human-centric" such as participatory design.

"...cross-cutting and longer-term concerns are all too easily sidelined..."

However, contemporary software engineering practices have helped to significantly increase the speed of development. This is a good thing as it saves time and resources and decreases the time from initial development to gaining experience with a design. No longer do we need to wait for months or years before we get feedback. What is less fortunate, though, is that the proponents of agile development methods eschew and kind of up-front analysis. This means that cross-cutting and longer-term concerns are all too easily sidelined.

Rights-driven Development aims to integrate the concept of rights into contemporary software engineering practice. It is a practice that helps to implement the duties that corporations have under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Read more about it and the business and human rights movement to learn more about what obligations businesses today have with regard to human rights.