We seek smart lifestyles through technological innovations. Embedded technologies will make our lives non-separable from the digital sphere. Ideally, we have smart homes, smart offices and smart cities that enable us to lead smarter lives with clear priorities. Technology will help us in working, shopping, cooking, transportation, learning, entertainment and sustainability.

Whether it will enable smarter living, depends on how well we use it – what are the values that guide its usage and development. The role of tech is ideally to help serve a wisely defined purpose. Our expectations are growing.

When before we were satisfied with automatization of mundane routines, now we want to outsource complex meta work and even ethical dilemmas. Can technologies help us to become better people or more ethical companies?

Why now?

As AI takes a growing role in our lives the critical voices in society will get louder. In general, social sustainability is more and more in focus in consumers’ minds.

There are of course huge risks involved, and in the worst-case new technologies will reinforce the historical models of discrimination. We must remember that AI uses a lot of power, and therefore specific rules of ethics need to be built in from the start.

What’s in it for me?

Ideally, AI will provide super-human capabilities also from the ethical viewpoint. Technologies can be free from human error that leads to unfair practices, but only if ethics are built into it. Otherwise, they risk being systematically unjust.

Consumers are going to demand that AI, algorithms and smart services are ethical and unbiased when using their huge power in our lives. Awareness is growing and tech giants are already making changes, and now it is the time for all companies to re-think. – And also see, whether uncompromised ethics can create better business and new opportunities.

The perfect example

Fairplay describes itself as the first Fairness-as-a-Service solution for financial institutions. They provide tools that assess companies’ automated decisioning to increase both fairness and profits.

The typical algorithms used for evaluating whether a customer is eligible for a loan can be biased. Fairplay identifies disparities among people of color, women, or other disadvantaged groups and reassesses declined loan applications. As an outcome they promise a 10% increase in approval rate with no increase in risk. Ethical business is better business.

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