Imagine a world where smart packaging for ready meals in supermarkets informs you in real time about your carbon footprint, alerts you live to product recalls and instantly alerts you to safety as allergens have been unexpectedly detected in factory.
But how much additional energy would be used to power such a system? What if an accidental alert meant you were being told to throw your food away for no reason?
These are some of the questions posed by a team of researchers, including a Lancaster University professor of design policy and thinking about the future, who, by creating objects from a new “intelligent imaginary world” Examines the ethical implications of the use of artificial intelligence in the food sector. .
Their article âConsidering the ethical implications of digital collaboration in the food industryâ is published today in the November issue of the journal Data Science Solutions. Reasons.
Food production is the most important sector of UK manufacturing industry. The complex processes and systems of food production and distribution, involving millions of people and organizations, generate enormous amounts of data every day.
But, the article says, for the opportunities to fully materialize, it is necessary to be able to work together securely, share and access a wide variety of data sources across the food industry. Sharing data and using it more efficiently, as with AI and other new technological innovations, can potentially reduce waste, increase sustainability, and protect health.
Meeting this need requires a trust mechanism to enable different parties along the supply chain to help each party make informed decisions about the credibility of separate data sources. But organizations may be wary of sharing data that may be commercially sensitive, so new systems are being developed that may be trusted to protect privacy while allowing wider use of the data collected.
The article cautions that new technologies can also introduce ethical issues and unintended negative consequences.
“Creating such a data collaboration would require the integration of both cutting edge technology and surrounding social, institutional and political elements to ensure that the system functions equally and fairly for all parties involved,” the article adds. .
“For example, if AI is to be implemented, we must address the well-known ethical challenges in this field, such as prejudice and accountability, to create systems accountable for their implementation and prioritize the good. -To be human.”
The project brought together people with different types of expertise and used a method called ‘design fiction’ to help explore the ethical implications of sharing food data and assess technologies that do not yet exist.
Lead author Dr Naomi Jacobs of the Imagination Laboratory at Lancaster University said: “Rather than asking general questions about what could go wrong, or having to wait for something to be completely built – when it’s probably too late to change things without huge costs or start all over again – we imagined what the world would be like if âtrusted dataâ (designed to protect private data while allowing others to use it) already existed. “
As part of a larger project established by the Internet of Food Things Network + (led by the University of Lincoln) to explore data trusts related to the food industry, the research team created objects that acted as âpropsâ from this fictional world, like a âdocumentaryâ film about a supermarket recall and the packaging of supermarket ready meals in real time. These props were used with a set of cards designed to enable engagement with the ethics of technology, called the Moral-IT Deck. Using these, they worked with food and technology experts to assess the potential ethical benefits, risks, and challenges they posed.
âThrough this process, we discovered some significant issues,â added Dr. Jacobs. âFor example, it is essential to determine where the power lies in these systems, how large companies, small businesses and individual consumers might be affected positively or negatively, and how different ethical aspects such as sustainability and good- be, confidentiality and transparency, might need to be balanced. These need to be taken into account when developing these types of data trusts in the future. “
The article presents an approach by which the ethical implications of technological progress can be considered, particularly here in the context of digital collaboration in the food sector and with particular emphasis on the use of AI in management and development. use of shared data and the importance of responsible innovation.
The project was funded by Internet of Food Things Network + and AI for Scientific Discovery Network +. Co-authors included: Imagination Lancaster, LICA, University of Lancaster; Lincoln Institute of Food Technology, University of Lincoln; Future Food Beacon of Excellence and School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham; School of Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Southampton; School of Business and Management, Royal Holloway University of London and Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester.