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“No one likes to talk about ethics. I show that talking about ethics can be fun”

Brazilian AI lab Kunumi invited me to their Volume Podacst, which is dedicated to “reframing the present for a reimagined future”. Filipe Forattini challenged  me to reflect on how I became who I am today. Here is a summary of what I said:

I was a primary school feminist protesting against handicraft lessons for girls, became a rebellious anticapitalist teenager in high school, got very bored as a business administration student in the 1990ies, hid away in the academic ivory tower… But eventually I have become less black and white-thinking and managed to make my ‘exaggerated sense of justice’ my profession. And I am very happy with and grateful for that.

But of course, this only makes sense in hindsight. This is how I tell the story now. But I can clearly state that I have become less black and white over the course of my career.

I have come to see that not all multinational companies bad and neither are all ‘ethical companies’ good. I have come to see that so many different factors play a role in whether a company is perceived as ethical from the outside and, whether you are perceived as ethical from the outside still needs to be kept apart from whether you really have an effect. Effectiveness and credibility are two different things.

Filippe also made me reflect on the future of ethics consulting. I am optimistic:

After many years where it was a distinctively bad marketing strategy to sell yourself as an ethics consultant, ethics has become a common denominator of many challenges we face in business and society. What we’re seeing now with sustainability, which is becoming more formalized, institutionalized and integrated into business, will also happen with AI and ethics. The times when ethics meant doing some philanthropy on the side are over. In the future there will be a much higher acceptance for saying the ‘e-word’ in the business world.

Find the full episode below: