Professional ethics in a world of algorithms


Can ethics inspire the future of the professions?

For centuries the learnt professions of medicine, law, teaching, architecture and accountancy have played important social role – contributing to a greater good and solving problems that are too complicated for individuals. Yet today, the role and expertise of these august professionals seem to be under threat from information technology and artificial intelligence, capable or replacing the job of human experts.

In their book ‘The Future of Professions’ Daniel and Richard Susskind argue that we will not need professionals in 21st century society and predict the decline of the professions in the face of artificial intelligence.

The Financial Times is currently running a series of articles on the rise of robots and the impact of technology on the practices of professional services

Watson, the cognitive computing systems of IBM, after successfully performing in the surgical theatre, is now taking the stand in the court with ROSS, the super intelligent attorney.

Yet, isn’t there something beyond the expert technical knowledge and labour-intensive tasks that distinguishes professionals? Why do professions stand out? What should they contribute to our society?

Through our AuditFutures initiatives, we support the image of a ‘professional’ as more than a technical expert (or a robot), but a practically-wise and motivated individual whose moral orientations is to doing good work with perceived greater purpose.

Therefore, we welcome the challenge thrown at us and are taking the opportunity to host an interactive and participatory event to explore some of the key questions:

  • Is ethics really important for modern professions?
  • Can AI learn ethical behaviour and from whom?
  • How do we develop technology with ethical decision-making?
  • What would be the evolving role of professions in a world of AI?
  • Where can we add value as professionals?

Videos from the event

Highlights from the Salon feature Gilly Lord (PwC), Philippa Foster Back CBE (Director of the Institute of Business Ethics), Rona Chester (COO of Sports England), William Rimington (Ethical Hacker, PwC), David Prosser (business journalist), and a keynote from Calum Chase