From July 20 to 22, 2022, the city of Bilbao hosted the International Society for Business Ethics and Economics Congress (ISBEE-2022). In this seventh edition, expected in mid-2020 but held only in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall theme of the Conference was “Reinventing Globalization: Community, Virtues, and the Power of Purpose.”
The Conference covers study and discussion topics in almost 40 different tracks related to business ethics (https://www.ehu.eus/en/web/isbee2022/tracks), among which we can mention themes such as ethical leadership, governance & corporate social responsibility, meaningful work, stakeholder management & organizational purpose, artificial intelligence in business, and sustainability & social entrepreneurship.
In this edition, more than 200 researchers from several nationalities participated, among which two researchers from the Admethics research group presented papers on the track of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business. The doctoral candidate Ana Luize Bertoncini presented the paper “Ethical content in artificial intelligence: a demand explained by three critical points,” and the Ph.D. in administration Maria Clara Ames presented the paper “Artificial intelligence in digital marketing: a virtue ethics discussion.”
At the Conference’s opening, ISBEE’s president, Professor Thomas Maak, spoke about “Radical hope and cosmopolitan futures.” He explained that radical hope requires moral imagination to think about a better future, considering the world’s tragic problems today. According to the professor, a better future also demands cosmopolitan ethics and legal, ethical, and political principles for co-responsible governance among nations.
In Ana Luize Bertoncini’s paper, co-authored with Maurício Serafim, they develop an argument around how the changes brought by artificial intelligence (AI) have brought new ways of interaction and flourishing for the people. After a brief framework on why we should focus on AI ethics, the authors guide the discussion through three critical points: autonomy, explainable AI (also known as XAI), and value alignment (or VA). This discussion, however, leads to the reflection on a redefinition of the agency of artificial intelligence. The proposal is to give AI moral agency, even if not at the same human level, to adapt to societal changes.
In the second paper, Maria Clara Ames, Dilmar Ames, and Maurício Serafim conducted a literature review and documentary research on ethics in the use of AI in digital marketing. Their goal is to understand to what extent digital marketing studies and practitioners have considered the ethics of artificial intelligence. The initial results point to the main ethical concerns present in the field and the implications for the human being considering the perspective of virtue ethics: data privacy and biases, an opacity of systems and search engine results, practices such as black hat, which interfere in the market relations and consumers’ decisions and habits (impulse decisions, addiction in consumption habits and interaction in social media).
Throughout the three-day event, renowned researchers in the field presented their ideas and concerns about the future of capitalism and globalization from their study backgrounds:
- Dani Rodrik, a political scientist at Harvard University (https://www.ehu.eus/en/web/isbee2022/speaker-dani-rodrik), lectured about the Reinvention of Globalization on the panel consisting of Georges Enderle (University of Notre Dame), Peter Obio (Gulu University), Florian Wettstein (University of St. Gallen), and Thomas Maak (University of Melbourne);
- Axel Honneth (Columbia University/ University of Frankfurt) (https://www.ehu.eus/en/web/isbee2022/speaker-axel-honneth) spoke on Working Conditions, Democracy, and the Future of Globalization and responded to panelists Craig Smith (INSEAD), Christopher Michaelson (University of St. Thomas), and Thomas Maak (University of Melbourne);
- Ann Rosenberg discussed “The Future Role of Women” in the reflective panel also consisting of Professors Joanne Ciulla (Rutgers University), Daryl Koehn (DePaul University), and Jennifer Griffin (Loyola University) (https://www.ehu.eus/en/web/isbee2022/speaker-ann-rosenberg);
- Edward Freeman shared his experience on the role of organizations and stakeholders, speaking on “Toward A Global Stakeholder Economy,” in the panel also formed by Brad Agle (Brigham Young University), Jacob Rendtorff (University of Roskilde), and Leire San Jose (University of the Basque Country) (https://www.ehu.eus/en/web/isbee2022/speaker-edward-freeman).
The experience of the Admethics researchers in this research community has allowed the dissemination of such research on AI ethics to a community of international academics and practitioners. While we see points to evolve, we recognize peculiarities of our context that make this issue unique in our reality. This first participation of UDESC/ESAG researchers in an international event on business ethics can contribute to future students and researchers who wish to engage in debates on the topics of ethics in business and economics and can offer a promising contribution in terms of international research networks.