This is a fascinating issue, one that is becoming more prevalent as our society becomes increasingly more digitized. However, it’s not the first time that the tech world faces such a moral dilemma. When drones were first introduced as unmanned aerial vehicles in modern warfare, many came forward to condemn and called into question the ethicality of using a killing robot. For many philosophers, it presented a “moral hazard” — a situation in which greater risks are taken by individuals who are able to avoid shouldering the cost associated with these risks. When the cost of taking risks is reduced, especially in a state of war, does it invite more justification of going beyond what is needed? Just because we ‘can’ doesn’t necessarily mean we ‘should’, and lowering the stakes in warfare is certainly a dangerous territory, particularly when civilian casualties are oftentimes unavoidable. It is an important issue to be on the lookout for, and even with a top-down approach, there will unlikely ever be a morally-just answer.
 New York Times. “The Moral Hazard of Drones.” July 22, 2012. [http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/the-moral-hazard-of-drones/]
As much I would love to have a kitchen that caters and cooks to my preference, I am very skeptical of where connected home is going and concerned of the impending security risks. At the CES conference almost 2 years ago, connected home was all the commotion, but I remembered one of the keynote speakers, Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, spoke on the need for start ups and entrepreneurs to take security seriously. Many people are often shocked at the kind of information that a home appliance can divulge. You might not think hijacking a smart thermostat like Nest can be any valuable, but a connected thermostat collects information on who is in the house, what their schedules are, when they are asleep / awake, and can ultimately lead to significant security risk if not properly managed. Before we jump on the bandwagon to celebrate the digital age, it’s critical to ensure that we have our back door covered.
You can read more on Ramirez speech and the related security risk of connected home here:
Great, article Sabine, and I am surprised to hear that Lego found the need to transform their business trajectory in light of the digital trend. I absolutely agree with The Concerned Corker – not everything need to be digitized in our lives, in particular children’s toys. The reason why digitization has become such a prevalent phenomenon in the business world is because at the end of day, it drives efficiency and productivity, which directly affects the bottom line. Consumers’ need for convenience and accessibility ultimate propels businesses to increasingly adopt digitized processes into their work streams to better serve their customers. However in the children’s world, this need is nonexistent. Toys do not need to be digitized to serve their purpose, which is to invoke imagination and to create a fun playtime experience. While there is an increasingly number of digital toys and games, I would argue that they fulfill a completely separate set of needs, and simply cannot replace the needs that physical games can satiate.
While the New York Times (NYT) certainly has its roots in the newspaper / print industry, it has adapted well into the digital age. In contrast to many other local or regional newspapers, its scale and existing footprint have allowed NYT to diversify its product offerings to better engage with its new generation of audience. However, as digital media continues to evolve, I think it’s imperative for the newspaper to rethink its business model as a media channel as a whole. As the author has indicated, the idea of subscription has been a tough sell for millennials, who are used to receiving free news coverage on the internet. On the broader scheme of things, newspaper media is also no longer the only way of receiving news. Millennials today are used to being bombarded with latest news or trends from hundreds of sources, and the network effect is increasingly prevalent as news sharing becomes instantaneous. NYT needs to recognize that in order to stay relevant, it must begin engage with its audience in other channels where they reside, and become as integrated and immersed as possible.
Interesting juxtaposition of a non-profit and climate change as one of its revenue drivers. I find the case to be very similar to doctors as a profession, whose livelihood and success is purely dependent on the existence of the sick and the healthy. Indeed, this is a profession that thrives while others suffer. However, our society doesn’t penalize our doctors nor do we even think about the monetary benefits for the doctor because they fulfil an important and functional need for society, just like the American Red Cross. While every organization has its P&L, the existence of the Red Cross is to serve the unfortunate population devastated by natural disasters, and its success is predicated on the value of services it provides. It is, therefore, up to the marketing and campaign professionals to do their job and make sure the donations are coming in just enough to sustain operations and provide the services that humanity needs.
For such a large CPG company, it’s interesting to consider the many points on the supply chain that a sustainability initiative would effect. In particular, I am surprised to learn that General Mills has committed to sustainably source 100% of its top priority ingredients by 2020. Clearly this would be a largely joint and coordinated effort between all of its suppliers up and down the chain, and it would be crucial for General Mills to implement accountability in its suppliers. Many corporate sustainability programs are often pristine on paper, yet when it comes to operations on the ground, suppliers are still operating as usual with non-sustainable agricultural practices. I would curious to learn more of General Mill’s plans moving forward, no just on how they manage to meet their goals, but how they are able to hold their suppliers every step of the way.
The article shares great insight into the industry of fast fashion, where constant renewal of designs and styles drives inherent consumer behavior that produces garment waste and significantly negative environmental impact. I have to agree with AZ, in that the very nature of fast fashion is conducive to exacerbating environmental challenges, and I am skeptical whether the H&M initiatives are really what the organization believes of simply another chapter out of its corporate responsibility for PR. Until the company actively promote and advertise their clothing as recycled fashion with a deliberate intent on revamping its manufacturing processes, I doubt that fast fashion would ever become truly environmentally-conscious.
It’s always fascinating to consider the impact of food consumption on our global carbon footprint. I have a feeling that the high levels of GHG emissions you pointed out in the article are only pertinent to the developed countries. In my experience, raising livestock in developing countries does not require as gruesome of a process (as it’s not trying to maximize output to satiate demand), and in turn, is unlikely to generate as high level of GHG as that of the US or other developed countries. Ironically, some developing countries are beginning to become environmentally conscious in food production process, and is investing in food items that minimize carbon foodprint. One example is Guayaki – one of the only type of foods that have NEGATIVE carbon footprint. http://guayaki.com/about/1533/Reducing-Your-Carbon-Footprint-with-Guayaki.html
Interesting point on the structuring of tax incentives to induce consumer behavior, however, I would have to disagree on phasing out the tax incentives for electrical vehicles. When Tesla was first founded at a time when electric auto industry was still nascent, it had a really difficult time seeking equity investments and convincing the public that electric vehicles can both a) match gasoline-vehicles in performance and b) effectively serve environmental purpose. However, as R&D picked up in the space, Tesla joined the ranks of a few pioneers in the industry to shift public opinion towards becoming environmentally conscious. Even if consumer demand for Tesla cars is inelastic, it still does not negate the fact that the company serves a critical social purpose, at the same time offer utilitarian benefits to its users. Intentions differ, sure, but results remain the same, and while one may argue that the tax incentives should be allocated elsewhere, I think eliminating these incentives would have significant signaling effect to rest of the industry, and may deter a significant number of marginal consumers that are considering investing in electric cars overall.