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Ethical Implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Business and Society

Business Ethics

ISBN: 978-1-78973-684-7, eISBN: 978-1-78973-683-0

Publication date: 7 June 2019


Businesses are rapidly automating workplaces with new technologies (e.g., driverless cargo trucks, artificially intelligent mortgage approvals, machine-learning-based paralegals, algorithmic managers). Such technological advancement raises a host of questions for business and society. As Thomas Donaldson recently remarked, “It’s instance of a problem that more sophisticated engineering cannot solve, and that requires a more sophisticated approach to values” (Ufberg, 2017). In this chapter, we explore the value questions as follows: What is the purpose of business in the machine age? What model for business will best serve society in coming decades: profit maximization, stakeholder theory, or another conception entirely? Is it time for a new social contract between business and society? Do firms have a natural duty to offer employment? Are existing concepts of responsibility/liability adequate for an age in which companies use autonomous robots as scapegoats? How can we protect our humanity and dignity in an algorithm-based society? Do we need to teach ethics to robots?



Hooker, J. and Kim, T.W. (2019), "Ethical Implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Business and Society", Business Ethics (Business and Society 360, Vol. 3), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 35-63.



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