Responsible Technology in a Digital Society: A report on Sector Evolution & Opportunities for funders

By Team Omidyar Network India and Sattva Consulting

The increase in smartphone and internet penetration over the past few years has led to the advent of a new digital society in India, transforming the lives of individuals and their daily interactions with communities, markets, and governments. This has enhanced their access to employment, affordable and personalised products, and state-provided welfare and public services.

However, there are trade-offs that every Indian makes when they interact with technology. In pursuit of its benefits, individuals also become vulnerable to risks arising from these very interactions. For instance, convenient access to personalised services comes at the cost of sharing personal data, and using social media often exposes users to online harassment.

A safe & inclusive digital society is one where individuals are able to reap the benefits of technology, and face minimal harms from its risks. While, there has been considerable focus on ‘Technology forGood’, or leveraging technology to enhance access to employment and services, the recognition and focus on mitigating its harms, or‘Responsible Technology’, is lagging behind.

As part of the Digital Society initiative, Omidyar Network India has been investing in the development of a thriving ResponsibleTechnology ecosystem. This report reviews how the sector has evolved over the last six years, highlights key enablers of progress, and identifies opportunities for funders and entrepreneurs to drive the sector forward.

We describe the evolution of innovation in the Responsible Technology space across a spectrum starting from recognising and forging a common understanding of the risks and harms, to building consensus on solutions, and finally, scaling up these solutions. We describe this journey through a five-stage framework - ‘Latent’, ‘Nascent’, ‘Emerging’, ‘Mainstream’, and‘Transformed’.

You can either read the report below or download the report as a PDF here. Download the Executive Summary of the report here.