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19th June 2019 Culture

Digital Leaders Workshop: Ethics and Emerging Tech

Technology-driven disruption is happening at an unprecedented pace, reshaping the way we live and work. While the pace of technology advancement is happening so fast, the questions around the ethical dilemmas of technology continue to mount.

Scandals around data and security continue to hit the headlines, and digital disruption creates conflicts of interest, which is causing business leaders to think more about ethical concerns. Only this morning, Oxford announced it has received a £150 million donation to build an institute to study the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Efforts to harvest data reinvigorate the need for ethics training for people across the business that handle sensitive data. Not only this, empathetic responses are being integrated into artificial intelligence and robotics, which is raising sticky ethical questions.

Who is held accountable if a driverless car crashes? Can bots lie? Will robots eventually need rights of their own? Does technology exacerbate inequality?

Yesterday I attended my very first workshop as part of the Digital Leaders Week 2019, which comes hot off the heels of London Tech Week. The talks and discussions touched on different aspects of the complex relationships between people, ethics, and technology.

What was different about this workshop compared to ones I have gone to in the past was that I was actively part of the conversation. I brought up the point of asking whether schools have a responsibly to encourage digital literacy and tech use. The reality is that most people are unaware of the extent to which technology already makes life-changing decisions on their behalf.

While companies across industries are deploying next-generation technologies to keep pace with evolving customer behaviour at their convenience, a point which was raised was the unintended negative consequences of such advancements, e.g. job losses, death of the high-street, impact on communities etc.

Another theme which was discussed was the role of regulators and governments.

Do we need more regulation?

This is interesting, given that the UK government already plans to steer away from having tech giants “self-regulate” and imposing an independent regulator to oversee and enforce rules on handling harmful online content by the end of this year.

Personally, and professionally, it’s a topic which I could talk about for hours which is probably why it over-ran!

I think it is safe to say the moral and ethical questions surrounding technology will continue to spark interest, whether it’s in the newsroom or the boardroom!

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