Study Tour

2019 Fall Study Tour: Ethical Digital

Driving better business ethics, better business – and better businesses

We had Digital. Now we have Ethical Digital. Whether it’s guarding against cyber risk, misuse of data and opaque AI-powered decisions, or building trust in automation and autonomous systems, ethics is – or should be – an explicit requirement of the digital leadership agenda.

Business leaders have always held responsibility for resolving complex ethical choices by setting an organization’s vision and making strategic decisions.  As traditional organizations become technology driven, these challenges are exacerbated by increasing layers of abstraction and automation touching every part of a business from operations and delivery to product development and HR practices. Leaders are called upon to consider ever more complex conflicting interests, balancing the risks and rewards of designing Ethical Digital technology to not just improve organizational performance, but also contribute more broadly to society.

Business and policy decisions have become data-driven, meaning ethical know-how is as essential to assessing business impact as understanding organizational change or technology policy.

Ethics has moved from the realm of moral philosophers to computer programmers. It is now seemingly routine for Silicon Valley and other corporate executives to defend their record on ethical issues including privacy, data, tax, competition, diversity, inequality and employment. For technology-driven businesses, today’s reputational risks have become tomorrow’s market pressures in the battle for Defending Digital1. Quite simply, ethics is table stakes for organizations who want to win in the 21st century.

Focusing the ethical lens

Our Ethical Digital study tour will be centred in London and New York. The home of the digital revolution may be Silicon Valley, but for Ethical Digital the gravitational centres are different. Both these hubs share a unique mix of innovation capital; regional, national and international policy frameworks; and robust academic and privately funded research institutions all focused on ethical automated decision systems. These are the key factors which give London and New York the right conditions to incubate what will become common practice for Ethical Digital.

London, in particular, is leading the way on driving regulatory and policy frameworks, with the UK’s stated goal of crafting policies that have an outsized impact on global behaviour in the same way that GDPR has impacted privacy practices far beyond the EU’s borders.

New York, also taking legislative strides ahead of the rest of the nation in terms of algorithmic auditing, has also long been the home of a different ethos to capital investment than Silicon Valley which includes some of the earliest and most active firms focused on reaping the rewards of investing in underrepresented groups.

At the start of this tour, delegates will be facing questions such as:

  • Where do you start? What’s your scope & how do you prioritize?
  • How do you realize financial & cultural gains from ethical technology use?
  • Who is governing ethical implications & what process is right for your organization?
  • Risk vs reward: how do you balance conflicting ethical concerns?
  • How do you keep up with emerging practices?
  • How do you create a sustainable culture of Ethical Digital?

By the time we wrap up, delegates will be equipped with the tools to identify possible ethical strategies and match these to the maturity of technological components, choosing the right ethical approach at the right time.

Wed 25/9
Welcome & Setting the Scene (London, UK)

We kick off over lunch with a tour introduction covering the key concepts and questions of the tour. Critical to the week is understanding what types of ethical approaches to adopt at what stages of a technology’s maturity. We will introduce the emergent frameworks in digital ethics and how to choose the right one. Delegates will consider ‘where they are now’ and ‘where they want to be’ at the end of the tour through an interactive session where participants will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and get to know one another.


  • QuantumBlack
  • Elective Dinners Hosted By LEF
Thu 26/9
Evolution (London, UK)

Thursday’s theme is the evolution of ethics, bringing to life the themes we introduced in Wednesday’s kick off session. For ubiquitous technologies, we will explore the emerging regulatory and industry body frameworks. For more speculative genesis and product/service stage components, we will also hear how investors and some of the newest technological innovators think about their ethical approaches.


  • Panel Discussion: Regulation, Policy & Opportunity in the Future of AI
  • Bethnal Green Ventures
  • Customer Case Study: UK Government
  • Pivotal Labs and DataKind UK
Fri 27/9
Ethics in Practice (London, UK)

Friday’s theme is ethics in practice with sessions focused around the challenges and benefits of getting ethics off the page and putting them into action. We will hear from world-leading technology companies on how they are identifying and managing ethical dilemmas every day.


  • Microsoft
  • Cisco Systems
  • Summing Up

Delegates are free to travel to New York between now and our kick off session on Sunday evening.

Sat 28/9
Optional Time with LEF (New York, USA)

Optional informal, relaxed dinner hosted by the LEF team in New York.

Sun 29/9
Social & Re-Focus (New York, USA)

Join us for a morning visit to some local attractions followed by lunch. An opportunity to continue and deepen the conversations that have started throughout the tour.


  • Recap, Refresh, Restart
  • Customer Case Study: Eli Lilly
  • LEF Hosted Dinner: Defending Digital
Mon 30/9
Ethics as a Value Proposition (New York, USA)

Monday’s theme is ethics as a value proposition. What if ethics were more than the mitigation of risk? What if it is a proactive strategy for guiding business development?


  • ThoughtWorks
  • a16z
  • Dell
  • Gala Dinner
Tue 1/10
Barrier & Solutions (New York, USA)

Tuesday’s theme is ethical challenges and their solutions. What can trip you up in adopting an ethical approach? How can these challenges be managed?


  • NYU Center for Data Science
  • GitHub
  • Facilitated Wrap Up & Learning Consolidation

Who should attend? 

Anyone responsible for the impact of technology on people or strategy.

  • Chief Data Officer
  • Chief Digital Officer & team
  • Chief Information Security Officer
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • IT Leadership (e.g. CIO, Heads of IT Strategy, Delivery, etc.)

Anyone needing to accelerate understanding of ethics in the digital era

  • Chief Ethics Officer & team
  • Corporate Social Responsibility


Based on our experience of previous study tours, we expect that most delegates will wish to arrange their own travel to and from the United States.


Includes 6 nights accommodation (Wed. - Mon), all meals and receptions, and ground transportation costs associated with all visits. 

Cancellation Policy

In the event of you cancelling either your own or your partner’s registration, you will be liable for any cancellation costs that may be incurred by Leading Edge Forum. If you cancel your registration and your place on the tour cannot be allocated to another delegate, please understand no refund may be payable.


A welcome lunch and introduction session that will structure the key concepts and questions the tour will address.

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