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The Business Value of Ethics

I recently had the honour to speak at the Ethics in Research and Innovation workshop organized by ADAPT Centre in Trinity College Dublin. The topic of my keynote was "The Business Value of Ethics", where I reflected about the need to practice ethics in research and innovation environments, and the benefits that these practices can bring to an organization or company. Here I leave some highlights from my presentation.

Why Ethics in Technology is a must?
  • Emerging technologies such as AI, Connected Home, Autonomous Vehicles or Human Augmentation have unprecedented levels of potential harm in our society if ethics are neglected.
  • The impact of these technologies can be spread from 0 to billions of people in a matter of hours.
  • High-tech is no longer a privilege of large corporations and organizations. Access, development and knowledge of cutting-edge technology is now affordable and available to SMEs as well, which account for 99% of the businesses in the EU. Practicing ethics in technology is everyone's job.

Where is the opportunity?
The main reason to practice ethics in R&I settings should be that it is the right thing to do, and our responsibility as human beings, but there are a bunch of other reasons that businesses can benefit from:
  • Ethically-informed solutions can be your core value proposition if you are targeting the growing ethically-concerned customer segment. For instance, a study claims that 70% of the American consumers are influenced to purchase products based on company's ethics.
  • Data breaches, AI biased algorithms, cyber-attacks,... they can ruin the reputation of a company within hours. Practicing ethics is a shield that does not only protect your business against future reputation damage, but it actually enhances it.
  • Ethics in technology practices are expected to follow the same path of the green business practices, that have become a legal requirement, an investor demand and a compelling competitive advantage.

Where do I start from?
You might want to check tools such as Ethics Canvas or Data Ethics Canvas, that allow teams to brainstorm about the potential ethical impacts of their projects. And you can always leave me a comment if you want to learn more.

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