Top Stories

January 25, 2019

Ethics in Technology

Australian business execs and academics call for urgent national debate on AI ethics

A group of Australian business leaders are calling for a national debate on the ethical issues to AI as businesses rapidly invest in these technologies. They have signed an open letter to AI and ethics experts saying that despite AI’s potential to deliver tremendous benefits, there are significant risks and challenges that need to be addressed. “The concerns we feel about new technology solutions are very real. Whilst there has been much debate, there has been little progress in how AI should be regulated. We believe that Australia must explore the need for specific organising body to guide and advance the development of ethical frameworks, policy, and regulation as they relate to AI”, the letter said. Business leaders who signed the letter include executives and academics from KPMG Australia, CSIRO, Australian National University, University of New South Wales, and many more. The letter has been released ahead of the first Artificial Intelligence Forum in Sydney on February 7. (CIO Australia; Financial Review)

Read more: Corporate Citizenship’s Monthly Briefing – Ethics in Tech

Circular Economy

Circular food ‘revolution’ could unlock $2.7 trillion per year, Ellen MacArthur study finds

Embedding circular economy principles within the global agri-food sector could contribute $2.7 trillion to the global economy through decreased healthcare and environmental restoration costs, a new Ellen MacArthur Foundation report has concluded. Published at the World Economic Forum, the NGO’s ‘cities and a circular economy for food’ report lays bare the extent of current environmental, social and ethical shortcomings in the world’s existing linear food system. While framing several findings on the state of the global food system, the report also highlights the scale of the benefits that could be reaped by fixing them. In total, the global economy would be up to $2.7 trillion better off if all the world’s food systems were made circular, with all products and by-products either eaten, composted or “otherwise valorised”, it claims. Ensuring true circularity within urban food systems will require “unprecedented collaboration” between food brands, producers, retailers, city governments and waste managers, it argues. (Edie)

Consumer goods giants launch global recycling service

Unilever, Nestlé, P&G, PepsiCo, and many others have clubbed together with recycling specialist TerraCycle to unveil a new global service designed to enable household collection of empty or used product packaging for refilling, reuse, or recycling. Named ‘Loop’, the first of its kind circular economy system is aimed at providing households with a convenient way to reduce reliance on single use plastics in the home, TerraCycle said. It also added that the Loop initiative had been made possible as a result of “innovation investments” made by founding partner companies, as part of their drive to offer a zero waste option for some of the world’s most recognisable products that was both affordable and convenient for consumers. As part of the initiative, Unilever today unveiled plans for new reusable packaging across nine of its brands that will be trialled using the Loop service, and will trial new reusable packaging made from aluminium and glass. (Business Green)

Human Rights

Robot era shouldn’t mean end to workers’ rights, says UN agency

Addressing the government and business leaders at Davos this week, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) urged leaders to sign up to a universal labour guarantee to bolster fundamental workers’ rights, including adequate living wages and collective bargaining through trade unions. The UN agency also presented its report on the future of work, which said a package of measures was required to put the world economy on a sustainable footing for the future. It comes as concerns grow over the impact of technology on workers’ jobs, pay and rights around the world, with automation rendering more traditionally human roles obsolete. The report calls for a universal labour guarantee that would enshrine the right to an adequate living wage, maximum limits on working hours, and health and safety protections. The ILO also called for improved policies to support reductions in gender inequality, from parental leave to greater investment in public care services. (Guardian)


European airline emissions grow despite targets

European airlines have continued to increase their carbon emissions despite an industry target to cut them to half their 2005 levels by the middle of the century, a new report has said. The European Aviation Environmental Report found that net CO2 emissions from aviation had increased by 3 per cent between 2014 and 2017. The increase in net carbon emissions includes the effect of the EU’s emissions trading system; without that, the increase was actually 10 per cent. Andrew Murphy of Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based group for NGOs, has calculated that, given the increased number of credits airlines would need to buy, this would cost them €738m in 2020 at €20 a tonne, up from around €150m in 2016. “Aviation is the most carbon intensive mode of transport so it’s no surprise that it risks an increasing cost from climate measures. But that cost can be mitigated if the sector steps up investment in new aircraft and fuels,” he added. (Financial Times)*

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External Event

edie Sustainability Leaders Forum

5-6 February 2019, Business Design Centre, London

An award-winning event for global sustainability leaders inspiring change for good, edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum brings together hundreds of ambitious professionals every year, including Government, NGOs, investors, business leaders, and more.

The 2019 Forum theme “Embracing the fierce urgency of NOW” inspired the development of the programme which features leadership labs, a Mission Possible call to action, live edie podcast, and more, giving you the most interactive and immersive experience on the day. Speakers from the likes of BEIS, Unilever, Coca-Cola, M&S, Carlsberg, Tesco, BT and more will address how to connect sustainability with profitability, unlock the power of purpose-driven strategies, and accelerate behaviour change.

View full details and book here and quote CCB15 to receive 15% discount.


Image source: BOEING 777-232(LR)_N710DN_1 by hans-johnson on FlickrCC BY-ND 2.0