Protecting ourselves from ourselves – post pandemic ethics pillars

Business Consultant Read time: 3 mins
As the world reacts to the long-term reality of Covid-19, Nick Rhodes explains the role of ethics and accountability in generating greater trust
Protecting ourselves from ourselves blogIf ever a crisis was too good to waste it’s the global wake-up call that is the Covid-19 pandemic. We have suddenly all become armchair (data) scientists.
 
But even before the pandemic struck, data ethics had already been bubbling-up in many conversations. Now, though, it has taken firm root on the global media’s front and home pages. But from concerns over the expanding role of government, to societal rights versus individual freedoms, to the potential rise of app-enabled surveillance, there are few, if any, easy answers to the questions policymakers are wrestling with. 
 
As we adjust to this new reality, many organisations are realising they need to take accountability for not only their actions, but also those of the machines they employ, the supply chains they trust and their impact on our fragile, connected humanity.
 

Ethics front and centre

We now find ourselves watching debates unfold, new treatments being tested and experiencing not only how many business continuity plans pass muster, but also how people behave en masse, what they will tolerate and what prompts right human responses.
 
For example, I live near the Thames in London and my daily walk takes me past a long, narrow footbridge. Social distancing was first requested with one sign, then several, then one-way was introduced, then CCTV warnings appeared and it is now closed, so we all lose the freedom to cross because of a selfish few – this doesn’t seem fair.
 
More starkly, we may be tempted to use a mobile phone whilst driving even though we know we shouldn’t (morally) and it’s illegal. But it is a law that has been hard to enforce – until recently. In New South Wales, police officers are seeking to capitalise on high-res digital imagery and artificial intelligence to sift the pictures and identify likely offenders for the human-in-the-loop to triage.
 

A fairer world in future?

This combination aims to protect ourselves from ourselves – and it’s an example of how potential AI-assisted decision-making can make our world fairer.
 
So where do you start with ethics? Soon. Top down. And with different scenarios in mind... 
 
Nick Rhodes Ethics report image

Ethics - escaping the ivory tower

Read Nick Rhodes' paper which recently featured in Privacy Laws & Business International Report

Lawfulness, fairness and transparency is GDPR’s first data protection principle but how do you evaluate what is “fair”? Nick Rhodes of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence examines these evolving issues and explains how to place ethics front and centre amidst the accelerating data revolution.
Find out more
 
About the author
Nick Rhodes is a business consultant with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
 
Compliance

Would you like to learn more about our Compliance Services?

Our compliance and regulatory services combine industry best practices and an in-depth understanding of regulatory and ethical obligations to help our clients store, share, protect and use their information
Find out more
 
Government Insights Promo Block Image

Explore Government Insights

Stay up to date with the latest thinking, trends, technologies and projects from our Government team
Find out more


Recommended Reading:

  • Transformation in the Time of Coronavirus. The Coronavirus has turned our lives upside down but that’s not all, says Mivy James. It’s also highlighted the plight of the digitally excluded, as well the systemic changes which should be made permanent, not temporary
  • Delivering education differently. What Alok Raj lacks in civil service experience is more than made up for by a background steeped in technology and impact. Here, he tells Mivy James life at the Department for Education, the importance of strong and adaptable IT infrastructure, and adjusting to working from home
  • COVID-19 and the implications for fraud, credit risk and money laundering. How soon will we understand the COVID-19 impact on fraud, credit risk and money laundering? Mariola Marzouk investigates the steps banks can take in the current environment
  • Balancing ethics and innovation – data style. The government’s new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will be operating across a wide canvas, says BAE’s Holly Armitage. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have a real impact…
  • Happy Birthday, GDPR. To mark the first anniversary of GDPR, Nick Rhodes examines its progress so far and identifies three risks that lie ahead
top
Nick Rhodes Business Consultant 18 June 2020