Sustainability

Every Leader’s Guide to the Ethics of AI

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 9 min 

As artificial intelligence-enabled products and services enter our everyday lives, there’s a big gap between how AI can be used and how it should be used. A 2018 Deloitte survey of AI-aware executives found that 32% ranked ethical issues as one of the top three risks of AI, but most companies don’t yet have specific approaches to grapple with the challenges. Here, we list the seven actions that leaders of AI-oriented companies — regardless of their industry — should consider taking.

Driving Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

Faced with mounting challenges and pressure from governments, nongovernmental organizations, investors, and employees to be more aware of the environmental and social impacts of business activities, many companies are attempting to tap into the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of their employees, encouraging them to develop new products, services, or business models that create value for both the company and society.

Amazon Raised Its Minimum Wage — Will Its Rivals Do the Same?

Each month, the MIT SMR Strategy Forum poses a single question to our panel of experts in the fields of business, economics, and management. This month’s question asks our panel whether Amazon, by raising the minimum wage for its U.S. workers to $15 per hour, will influence other companies to do the same.

Critical Questions Live: Is It up to Business to Save the Planet?

  • Video | Runtime: 0:59:42

With climate change reaching a critical tipping point, business leaders must ask themselves what they can contribute to solving the challenges facing the planet. MIT’s Yossi Sheffi and sustainability expert and author Andrew Winston debate and discuss the role of business in supporting sustainability goals.

Finding Good News for Human Rights After Khashoggi

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 6 min 

The room to maneuver on business and human rights has significantly expanded with the exposure of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal death. Companies must take advantage of this moment to prioritize human rights. Now is the time for business leaders and company boards to get on the right side of history — or risk becoming complicit.

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There’s Always a Time Lag (With a Price Tag)

  • Column

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Technology changes faster than society can keep up, a pattern now playing out with artificial intelligence. Many CEOs are taking a wait-and-see approach to AI, while others are anxious to barrel forward. In both cases, there’s little conversation about AI’s human costs. Incremental adaption makes it more likely that AI algorithms shared across organizations and geography are spreading their shortcomings. Leaders must act to mitigate these challenges if AI is to benefit society.

Explaining the Business Case for Sustainability Again … and Again … and Again

  • Column

  • Column
  • Read Time: 5 min 

The question “What’s the business case for sustainability?” has come roaring back over the last couple of years. It’s led, in part, by more intense investor focus on the issue: Financial execs are having to become more fluent in sustainability as investors grill them about how their companies are handling climate risks around supply chains and shifting regulatory landscapes and markets.

The High Cost of the Actions We Don’t Take

We can choose not to engage in improving the world. We can seize on every advantage available to us and our companies without thought to the consequences. We can act as if the planet and the global economy are not among our most critical stakeholders. We can join the crush of others who are just hoping to play out the string: keep our heads down, meet our numbers, collect our bonuses, and abdicate long-term responsibility to the next generation. But when we make those choices, we do violence against the future.

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Building an Ethically Strong Organization

Unethical behavior and misconduct has been a persistent problem in the business world. A company’s ethical norms are a cumulative outcome of how daily ethical dilemmas are addressed in the workplace. Over time, these micro-level issues can evolve into a corporate ethics scandal — unless organizations work to help employees make ethical choices day to day.

Business, Technology, and Ethics: The Need for Better Conversations

  • Column

  • Column
  • Read Time: 6 min 

The fusion of business, technology, and ethics is unfolding at a rate that appears to outstrip our ability as citizens to have meaningful and careful conversations about the effects of our actions on others. At the same time, the civic processes that should encourage innovative solutions to new problems appear to be broken. What we need is a commitment to honestly talk about the challenges technology now poses.

Finding the Middle Ground in a Politically Polarized World

Consumers and employees increasingly expect companies to engage with social, environmental, and economic issues. But business leaders can find themselves between a rock and a hard place, especially when corporate political activism is framed as “take a stand or be silent.” The reality is that companies need a more nuanced set of options.

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Blockchain and the Clean, Smart Grid

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Some techies think that blockchain and “tamperproof databases” will revolutionize more than money: A blockchain platform for the energy sector could accelerate the transition to renewables. Blockchain can help by making tracking energy more granular, automated, and trusted, which can allow companies to better verify claims of carbon neutrality. It could also streamline financing and insuring new energy projects and even help create a new kind of energy market.

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