Future of Digital Ethics: Is your organisation ready for 2030?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. An unsurprising prediction considering there is some form of automation to cater to almost every industry imaginable, including healthcare, legal, distribution, manufacturing, and many others.

With technology now touching upon nearly every facet of our lives, and with our data so intertwined within the global digital ecosystem, the question remains: will there still be meaning to the word ‘data privacy’ and ‘data ethics’ in 2030? Without proper guidelines of ethical vs. unethical practices, what will it look like for businesses and consumers in the next decade?

Digital ethics: definition

“Ethics begins where regulation ends” – A Guide For Professionals of the Digital Age, October 2018

Ethics in simple terms, are a personal or collective approach (at company level, for example) which entails setting guidelines for oneself based on the values and/or principles we hold – not to be confused with compliance (for example, GDPR) which is about abiding to a law or something external which has authority.

Digital ethics in 2019

Digital ethics has been listed as one of Gartner’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2019 and justifiably so given the number of data breaches that have happened in the past couple of years alone. Currently, tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, and Google have been under scrutiny for multiple data privacy breaches such as collecting text messages, phone call records, and conversations through smart devices and apps without proper consent of users. The same applies to other organisations in cases where customer data are sold to other businesses without their consent.

In general, holding or assessing any data that doesn’t bring a useful addition to a business or a person is considered unethical, but who should be given the power to decide or regulate?

Importance of digital ethics Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, had once mentioned that “Every business will be a software business”.

Due to the rise in digitisation, consumers are also becoming aware and are more careful in choosing which organisations to share and do business with. 76% of consumers say they would decline to do business with a company if it supported issues that conflicted with their beliefs. Without ethical practices, organisations will also have a wealth of other problems imposed upon them such as legal issues and public scrutiny.

“Organizations are going to be looking at how they adopt automation technology in terms of how it’s going to replace workers, augment them, or fundamentally change the makeup of their workforce… you’re going to see a lot of corporations thinking about the corporate responsibility of that, because studies show that consumers want and will only do business with socially responsible companies.” – Todd Lohr, Principal, Technology Enablement & Automation

Tech giants: taking the lead

Change is inevitable, and for businesses to survive, they must adapt. Tech giants are already responding to ethical calls to action. Apple CEO, Tim Cook has called on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to make the moves necessary to protect people’s privacy. Microsoft has set its own AI principles, and founded its AI ethics committee in 2018. Amazon has started sponsoring research into “fairness in AI”, while Facebook has co-founded an AI ethics research centre, located in Germany.

Working on a digitally ethical future, together in preparation for 2030, researchers and these digitised organisations must work together to lay the groundwork for a universal code of ethics, with unique guidelines for each industry to protect customer data. Organisations must also help their workers adapt to the new demands posed by these technologies; this will include re-training programs to help workers adapt with the new digital skills which will be demanded, replacing legacy systems with systems that are more suited to handle newer technologies, and also provide support for workers that might be displaced due to the impact of these new technologies.

By adopting digitally ethical practices, organisations can prepare themselves to overcome the emerging threats and more caused by such data abuse; loss of control on decision-making, cybercrime, loss of human touch and empathy – all of which might happen in the next decade if we don’t take proactive ethical measures from here-on-out.

“We may not have all the answers by 2030, but we need to be on the right track by then” – Wendy Hall, executive director of the Web Science Institute

How Objectif Lune can help

If your company has recently undergone a digital transformation, you can get a head start by taking small steps to help improve your business standing, such as by updating your privacy policy to meet data privacy law regulation standards (such as GDPR).

Click here to see how our products can help your business remain compliant with data privacy regulations or contact one of our experts to learn more about how our solutions can help your business in the long run.