The importance of ethics in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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During the latest edition of the Fourth Industrial Revolution report, released at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland, Deloitte highlighted the greater focus leaders have on advancing society through their technology efforts. In fact, leaders rated “societal impact” (including income inequality, diversity, and the environment) as the No.1 factor in assessing their organization’s annual performance, ahead of financial performance, customer experience, and employee satisfaction. This view manifests in their actions as well—more than 73 percent of the surveyed organizations have developed or changed a product in the past year to generate positive societal impact through Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies.
This data underlines the increasing importance of ethics both in terms of societal and business ramifications. “Examples of ethical “missteps” by companies abound in the media these days. – Deloitte explains -. One issue highlighted in the news regularly is that of data privacy, and it has left consumers understandably worried about how their data is captured, saved, and used. Another emerging threat is algorithmic bias, where biased data manifests itself in biased recommendations, but we’re yet to fully understand the ramifications of algorithmic bias. Even lack of inclusivity in technology design can negatively impact consumers, as seen in some smart city designs where people in wheelchairs are unable to access eye-level retina scanners as they require the person to be standing. These ethical issues, and others, have led to product recalls, public backlash, and/or lost revenue for companies. In this technologically and ethically complex environment, organizational values matter more than ever. If leaders don’t formulate and implement policies on the ethical usage of technology, it will likely become difficult for them to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

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