Redefining the place for ethics in the 4.0 era

The World Forum for Ethics in Business and the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition teamed up for a conference series to facilitate the urgent need for a multi-stakeholder debate on ethics in innovation. The first conference of this kind was held from 26-27 June 2017 in Munich

Brussels, 6 July 2017 – A call for ensuring a human face in the era of artificial intelligence marked the inaugural series of the first “Ethics in Innovation Conference – Innovation 4.0” that took place from 26-27 June 2017 at the German Patent and Trademark Office in Munich, Germany.

A joint initiative of the World Forum for Ethics in Business, the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition and the Peter Löscher Chair for Business Ethics at the Technical University of Munich, the conference brought together multiple stakeholders to seek answers to ethical questions in innovation.

More than 300 global thinkers and leading experts from academics, business, politics and NGOs deliberated on critical concerns about the new era of the fourth industrial revolution the humanity is set to enter.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the World Forum for Ethics in Business along with Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype, and Bishop Dr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo addressed the audience in the opening keynote panel. Citing examples of misuse of innovation for commercial purposes even at the cost of putting millions of lives at risk, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar emphasized the importance of ethics in innovation. “Deliberately withholding information for commercial interests is very unethical. When we’ve made a discovery that is useful for mankind, then it should be made available to everybody,” he said, adding that the ultimate purpose of any innovation is to bring happiness at the individual level.

Jaan Tallinn cautioned the gathering of the risks that artificial intelligence brings with it and emphasized that there should be more funding for AI-risk related research.
He also urged the audience that “Human brains have a massive impact on the planet. We have to make sure things will end up well, and there are so many organizations that are taking care of that.”

Bishop Dr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in the Vatican, implored the gathering to build a connection with nature, adding that in order to be creative, we merely need to develop the potential that’s already present in nature.

The conference witnessed deliberations by an impressive list of speakers including Prof. Dr. Ferdi Schüth, the Vice President of the Max Planck Society; Mr. Jo Leinen, Member of European Parliament; Mrs. Yvonne Feri, National Councillor for Switzerland; Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Advisor to the Indian Government, business representatives and several professors from world renowned universities.

At a time when the world is on the verge moving into the era of Artificial Intelligence, the conference explored answers to important questions, such as, “Should growth be the main guiding principle for the 4th industrial revolution?”, “How do we make it more humane?”, “What type of leadership do we need to create to deal with this novel situation?” and “What type of education do we need in order to cater to the needs of the changing society?”.
The “Ethics in Innovation Conference 2017” also saw 54 selected students and young professionals from 27 countries leading a session on ‘Call of the Youth’ and voicing their message to today’s decision makers.
The participating youth leaders had the opportunity to undergo holistic leadership training and prepare their intervention along with interactions with global leaders three days prior to the conference at the ”World Youth Forum on Ethics in Innovation”. Over 350 youth leaders from more than 30 countries have already participated in the World Youth Forums in the past few years.

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

We are global, we are fast, we are digital. And as the world we know is changing at an incredible pace, there are predictions that 40% of the world’s leading companies will not exist in a meaningful way after the next decade if they do not adequately prepare themselves for this era. Undoubtedly, the fourth industrial revolution is about to create a world in which virtual and physical systems cooperate with each other in a flexible way. It is changing how we work, live and relate to one another – and the very essence of what it means to be humane.

Recognizing this imperative need to discuss and redefine ethical standards and regulations in innovation and the leadership styles required across all sectors, the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition and the World Forum for Ethics in Business in partnership with the European Patent Office, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office and the Peter Löscher Chair for Business Ethics at the Technical University of Munich are organizing a series of conferences titled the ‘Munich Conference Series on Ethics in Innovation.’

The first conference in this series will take place from 26-27 June 2017 at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office in Munich and will focus on Information and Communication Technologies with special emphasis on innovations in the digital age, including artificial intelligence, internet of things and big data.

The conference will bring together 300 global thinkers and leading experts from academics, business, politics and NGOs and will address central questions such as:

  • Innovation 4.0: Can growth really be the main guiding principle of the fourth industrial revolution? How can we ensure that this revolution is empowering and human-centred, rather than divisive and dehumanizing?
  • Leadership 4.0: What type of leadership is needed for organizations to be able to innovate and transform in the speed needed?
  • Education 4.0: Can value-based education be an answer to the need for adequate leadership?
  • CSR 4.0: How can we assure that the fourth industrial revolution does not devour its own children but actually creates shared value?



German Patent and Trade Mark Office
(Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) – DPMAforum
Zweibrückenstraße 12
80331 München

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