Lassen sie uns reden

Category: Blog

The author together with "Dr. Skywater", Makoto Murase

Rainwater Harvesting in Bangladesh

In 2017 I visited various NGO projects in Bangladesh. Upon return to Switzerland I wrote a piece on a method to harvest rainwater in order to secure the supply of healthy water. The article was originally published in the Bangladesh newspaper Daily Sun on February 7, 2018.

Read More
The market only accepts bunches of 5 perfect bananas. 50% of the mini bananas in Costa Rica go to waste (source: private)

Getting to the root of food waste in bananas

The food waste of bananas created by consumers is only the tip of the iceberg. Even more waste is created at the farm level, where up to 40% of bananas are put to waste. The high percentage of waste at farm level puts an additional strain on the cost/income ratio of farmers.

Read More
Robin Hood (the Sherwood Forest version) would be disappointed by his Silicon Valley-Wallstreet namesake. (Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash)

Robinhood: democratized finance on shaky ground

More than 900 years after the heroic figure Robin Hood set out to steal from the rich and give to the poor, two American entrepreneurs borrowed his name to establish a fintech company that claims to “democratize finance for all”. But the new Robinhood’s claim of ‘democracy’ is on shaky ground. Just as the company can make financial markets accessible to everyone, it can also deny access within a split second. This is what happened when they shut down Gamestop trading on January 28, 2021. Thousands of investors were presented with a fait accompli.

Read More
San Francisco, home of OpenAI. Photo by Hardik Pandya on Unsplash

Why AI really needs social scientists

OpenAI states that in order to assure a rigorous design and implementation of this experiment, they need social scientists from a variety of disciplines. The title immediately caught my attention given that the kind of “AI ethics” I am dealing with hinges on an interdisciplinary approach to AI. So, I sat down and spent a couple of hours to read through the whole paper.

Read More
Protest against US President Trump in Washington D.C. Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash

Algorithmic decision-making and social division

Reading a report on “Discrimination, Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Decision-Making”, I wondered to what degree algorithmic decision-making could serve to further exacerbate discrimination in already deeply divided societies. If we want AI in general and algorithmic decision-making in particular to flourish and to contribute to the common good rather than promote or exacerbate division, we need to work towards creating societies where all members have genuine freedom and equal opportunities in their choice of lifestyles and identities regardless of their protected characteristics.

Read More
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What makes AI ethicists “the top hire companies need to succeed”?

KPMG ranked “AI ethicist” as one of the “top 5 AI hires companies need to succeed in 2019”. That’s good news for an ‘old business ethicist’ like me. However, there is no common understanding whether we need AI ethicists in the first place, and whether creating such a profile inevitably leads to “machinewashing”. I address these concerns and argue what it takes to really make AI ethicists a top hire.

Read More
Banana truck at a Chiquita plantation near La Lima (HON) (source: private picture).

The costs of lowering social standards

In 2014 Chiquita paid their workers in Honduras private health insurance which cost them a total of 1 million USD per year. Quite a lot of money for a company close to bankruptcy. A few weeks ago they wanted to lower the level of health care services. As a result, workers went on strike for more than 40 days. Bananas worth 30 million USD could not be exported. Is this really worth it?

Read More