A Developing Crisis in Business Ethics, Automation

i_256A Developing Crisis in Business Ethics, Automation

I predict that automation is going to be the hottest, most critical issue in business ethics in the next few years. It has been an issue in business ethics for the last fifty years. From time to time, it has risen to be a major issue but it has been a long time since it sat on the front burner of the field. Currently, there is more discussion over wage theft, outsourcing and even parental leave then there is over automation. But that is about to change.

In the past, automation was a danger to the employment of low skilled workers. I’m sure you can recall news photos of giant machines performing routine tasks on an assembly line. That is still happening but there is a new phenomenon. Computing power has now become so close to human intelligence that the jobs of those higher on the food chain are now threatened. Technological change is accelerating and more complex jobs are under threat.

Lawyers, Doctors and Professors will all find their jobs under attack in the years to come. All these professions will soon be replaceable in part, and in time, virtually all functions may be assumed by machine. These individuals are long used to being in a privileged position in society. The shock of the loss of prestige, money and most of all, power will produce a crisis in our society not seen since industrialization.

What will a world in which professions become irrelevant look like? How will we measure social class and achievement? Who will make the key decisions in our government?

This crisis will produce a new set of concerns and a new sense of purpose for the field of business ethics. The government, the professions and every kind of business will speak in a cacophony of voices. Each will be trying to make this brave new world conform to their vision. In this critical discussion, those of us who have been trying to makes sense of what is right and wrong for so long and with such limited results, will have a new importance.

James Pilant

When robots take our jobs, humans will be the new 1%. Here’s how to fight back | Michael Belfiore | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Will you be replaced by a machine? There’s nearly a 50-50 chance,according to a recent study by Oxford University researchers who found that 47% of the labor market in the US alone is at risk of being mechanized out of existence. Approximately 702 jobs thus far held by humans are now threatened by non-humans, as we were reminded by a widely shared report on the study this week.

It’s not hard to see why. Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are bringing robots into more and more workplaces. For example:

  • Autonomous vehicles now in development by just about every major automaker threaten the jobs of truckers and cabbies.
  • TheBaxter robot from Rethink Robotics is designed to work side-by-side with human factory supervisors, learning new tasks on the go – something only human workers could do previously.
  • Robotic surgeons such as those made by Intuitive Surgical and the open-sourceRaven project currently require human surgeons in the loop, but inroads have already been made into giving these machines autonomy as well.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles – as in, drones – are getting set for integration into the US national airspace next year, potentially replacing the jobs of many human pilots.
  • My profession isn’t immune to robotic outsourcing either. The Quill robotic journalist digests facts from raw data, and spits out fully formed sports and business stories.
  • Oh, and Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are now backing a computer that thinks like a person except it doesn’t need to eat or sleep”. So there’s that.

There’s even a robotic burger flipper in the works. The website of Momentum Machines boasts that its slicing, grinding, frying robot can do “everything employees can do except better”, and that it will “democratize access to high-quality food, making it available to the masses”.

via When robots take our jobs, humans will be the new 1%. Here’s how to fight back | Michael Belfiore | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

Belfiore, M. (2014, March 22). When robots take our jobs, humans will be the new 1%. here’s how to fight back. The Guardian, Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/22/robot-jobs-humans-used-to-do-fight-back

From around the web.

From the web site, Coal Cracker Classroom.


One of the biggest misconceptions about online learning is that it leaves a complete void regarding human interaction and social-emotional learning.  I have to beg to differ, here.  Technology use and online learning can support social and emotional learning when done correctly.  Textbook-like curriculum, delivered via an online interface, is not true, online learning.  It puts far too much prominence on the tool versus the actual learning that should take place.  Those of us in a classroom daily, who do support the use of technology as a tool for learning, know that in order to be successful, we must strike a balance between teaching, learning, and technology.

Nestico, Suzie. Why technology can’t replace teachers, yet. Retrieved from http://coalcrackerclassroom.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/why-technology-cant-replace-teachers/