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Ethics and the Data Economy

Ethics and the Data Economy Article Image

3. October 2022

The DSI Ethics Community together with Economiesuisse and Data Innovation Alliance has organized a public event «Ethics and the Data Economy” that took place on September 29. About 30 persons – representatives from business as well as academia – have discussed the challenges and needs of data ethics and a sustainable data economy.

The event started with three keynote speakers. Dr. Christian Keller (IBM Schweiz) argued for the importance of a code of ethics for ethical data management and trustworthy AI. In his presentation, he outlined several leading principles for an ethically aligned design that should be implemented in a company’s culture and processes. The second keynote speaker, Karin Lange (die Mobiliar and Data Innovation Alliance) presented a more critical view and argued that digitalization still represents “wild wild west”. What is needed is a complex process of cultivation of digital practices that embodies ethics. Hence, companies should invest enough time and resources to implement concrete ethical practices and tackle the issues. The final speaker, Markus Christen (DSI), outlined several aspects of the successful implantation of ethics in business. Among others, he presented the importance of a three-step process consisting of 1, recognizing an ethical problem, 2, making a decision and, 3, implementing the decision as a basic framework for ethics implementation.

The second half of the event consisted of three workshops to discuss specific issues connected with ethics and data. The first group led by Jutta Oberlin (Google) discussed cases from human resources, the second group led by Elzbieta Kühnel (Néstle) focused on specific questions from marketing and the final third group led by Florian Zabel (F. Hoffmann-La Roche) discussed questions about product personalization related to health. In the final discussion round, speakers agreed that it is important to embody ethical processes and thinking in a company’s culture and structure. More opportunities to discuss and exchange experiences with other experts in the field – from industry or academia – can facilitate this process. After the formal part, discussions continued informally during Apéro at the DSI.