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John Havens on ‘Human Sustainability’ in the IT World

May 23, 2017
By P.K. French

In a presentation titled “Human Sustainability in the age of Artificial Intelligence” at the Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit, John Havens discussed how artificial intelligence and autonomous systems can be ethically designed.

“My fate…is to study the human condition,” he said — initiating a discussion of what human data collection means for the future of sustainable business.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Redefining the Good Life,” and Havens followed a series of speakers tagging this idea. “Human data is a commodity,” Havens said, explaining that analytics systems should tread lightly in view of ethical complications.

Slide from John Havens’ presentation at Sustainable Brands in Detroit.

He cited the the European Union’s General Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will be enforced in May of 2018. This rule is part of a growing trend to safeguard consumer information from prying eyes, as aggregated “human data” becomes increasingly valuable.

Havens announced that this kind of regulation, akin to environmental stipulations, will force data and tech companies to find other, more consumer-oriented methodologies to help them sustain their business.

“Ethics is the new green,” Havens said.

Author Bio: P.K. French is the former Executive Editor of Innovation & Tech Today. An award-winning writer and editor based out of Denver, CO, he is fascinated by the relationship of tech and culture. You can find him on Twitter at @pk_french.

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