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An ethical compass in the automation age: guiding digital labor

An ethical compass in the automation age

The technology is ready. But is your business? In this article, we make sure your company’s automation strategy is respectful of its values.

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Guiding digital labor

As artificial intelligence and intelligent automation solutions become more and more robust, businesses often head straight to the ’how‘, assuming the ’why’ is self-explanatory. Just imagine a future where physicians can make custom treatment recommendations from an almost unlimited base of knowledge, or auditors can improve analyses of companies’ books and lessen risks. Those examples alone push the boundaries of what we once thought was possible.

But doing it is another story. In this piece, some of KPMG’s data-driven professionals explore how automation comes with a host of new and untested ethical issues that could affect an organization in reputation--and even legally.

First among them, of course, is the question of current employees. What happens when the ‘robots’ take over?

Guiding digital labor

*McKinsey & Company, “Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation”, Nov. 2015 †HfS Research and KPMG LLP, “Achieving Value Beyond Cost”, 2015

As the authors point out, the non-financial costs are as—or more—important.

This has led them to offer nine ways of monitoring your ethical compass to ensure your automation strategy fits with your company’s goals, culture and core values. This is especially true as introducing the technology can have a detrimental effect on employee engagement, career paths and wellbeing.

In a world where 69 percent of consumers say they are likely to purchase stock in a company well-known for its ethical standards, the KPMG perspective is that for several reasons, business must have a higher purpose than profits.

It is true that the adoption of robots and artificial intelligence could improve productivity by 30 percent in some industries. And that is a major incentive to change, but it must never come at the expense of culture or code.

For tips on making sure your strategy is sound, read the full story (PDF 1.28 MB).

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