Anyone digitalizing and implementing technologies such as artificial intelligence has to tackle ethical issues. Not only should companies command the technology but also be able to estimate the consequences of it. Just as security by design has been around for a while, ethics by design should become the rule. In the healthcare sector in particular, unwanted side effects from AI and big data need to be prevented.
Do you use a bonus program from your health insurer, and are rewarded because you use your smartphone to prove that you jog regularly? Do you think this offer is ethically sound? I have nothing against this. These sport offers are ethically sound because they use the support of modern technology to reward the extra mile, and they do not discriminate against deficits. Since we're already on the subject: the digitalization of healthcare shifts the focus of care from conventional therapy to prediction, prevention and precision medicine. Modern technology such as AI or big data are a blessing because they open up new treatment methods. However, many people still have their reservations. But if we first test whether their application is ethically sound and we develop a stronger awareness of ethical issues, it will help to strengthen the acceptance of disruptive technologies, resulting in AI becoming the most effective medication.
If artificial intelligence provokes fear, we need to talk about what an ethical framework for its use would look like.
With a view to digital ethics, companies in every sector should answer the following questions:
1. Which technologies could in future impact the company ethics and reputation and how can such threats be identified?
2. How does the company define its own ethical standard – beyond laws and regulation? How is it possible to create company-wide awareness?
3. What should practical instructions and standards for employees working with the new technologies look like?
4. How can technologies be monitored to guarantee that they are in accordance with their own company ethics?
On the subject of digital ethics and data centered innovation, the compliance division should take on a key role and develop a legally compliant framework which translates values and laws into practical codes of conduct.