Project Scope

Growing Digital Ethics: In Practice

Digital ethics is a fast-moving field that impacts three driving factors at the heart of all business decision-making: reputation, regulation, and revenue. This research will empower leaders to make higher quality decisions by putting into practice the core digital ethics principles we outlined in our 2019 position paper and later study tour report:

  • As our world becomes ever-more digitally mediated, ethical risks and opportunities are no longer the exclusive province of the legal and compliance teams but are becoming an everyday part of the workflow for software engineers, product owners, and others involved in building new digital products and services.
  • Conflicts between structured, rule-based approaches and unstructured, conjectural approaches to developing ethical frameworks can be resolved by developing a sustainable, evolutionary digital ethics approach that matches a technology’s phase of maturity.
  •  A meta-analysis of emergent digital ethics frameworks across industry and academia shows that these are coalescing around the four interrelated key concepts of fairness, transparency, explainability, and accountability. All four must be fulfilled to get ethics off the page and into practice.

Through speaking to a diverse range of field-leading experts and business leaders who have practical experience of putting driving digital ethics strategy and carrying out the tactical changes needed to bring the strategic vision to life, we will provide a roadmap of what to expect as the field evolves and examples of how to get these ideas off the page and into core operational action.

What Topics Will be Addressed?

As businesses become increasingly digitally driven, many are finding gaps in their ability to address possible risks—and identifying possible opportunities—in how their automated decisions will be perceived by the public, in keeping up with an evolving regulatory landscape for digital rights and responsibilities, and in the opportunities that digital ethics can offer for the bottom line. Ethics isn’t only about mitigating risk, but also about finding new market opportunities. Moving from a defensive position to one where ethics offers additional market confidence is a savvy play, but it requires the right skills to be in the room together in order to ask the right questions at the right time.

Our prior research outlined the fundamentals of developing an approach to digital ethics. Now we want to give you a roadmap based on guidance from leading experts in digital ethics, ranging from emergent research in the field to the practical experience of people working to put these principles into practice. We’re currently seeking two groups to work with us:

  • Chief Ethics Officers or other business leads with a mandate to create a digital ethics strategy, to participate in a series of discussion groups. At the end of these sessions, we’ll have an overview of digital ethics strategy & where this sits within broader strategic organizational objectives, with prime examples of how companies developed processes that get their ethical principles off the page and put them into action, every day.
  • Researchers, policy experts, and strategic implementers to participate in a podcast series discussing the latest developments in the field and how to put principles into practice.

Discussion Groups, Podcasts & Benefits of Participation

Please contact us to join either the discussion groups or as a guest in the podcast series.

In the discussion groups, we will peer review digital ethics challenges gleaned from experience or observation. The groups will use LEF’s digital ethics frameworks and our three bubbles innovation framework as a starting point, reflecting on what practical actions need to happen in order to address the challenge and how other businesses in the group have addressed or are planning to address similar challenges. The podcast series will provide further discussion prompts and thought provocation through novel insight into the fast-moving field of digital ethics. The outcomes of these discussions will evolve the practical roadmap-style guidance for implementing LEF’s frameworks in order to drive higher quality decisions about digital ethics at the board level.

In addition to peer expertise throughout the discussion groups, participants will gain early access to the final research publication. Podcast presenters will have a platform to share their insights to an audience of industry-leading change-makers, creating a real impact on digital ethics outcomes.

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