Is Digital Technology in the Food Sector ethical?

Industry Insights

If smart packaging for ready supermarket meals could provide real-time update about carbon footprint, give live warnings on product recalls, or instant safety alerts if unexpected allergens were detected in the factory how would the world be? How much extra energy would be required to power such a system? And, if an incorrect warning led to discard of food for no reason.

The questions were studied by a team of researchers who by means of creating objects from a smart imaginary new world are investigating the ethical implications of employing AI in the food sector.

The findings of the study is published in Patterns.

In fact, in the U.K., food is the largest manufacturing sector. The complex production of food and its distribution processes and systems involve millions of individuals and organizations to produce massive amounts of data each day.

However, there is a need to be able to work together securely, share, and access a wide variety of data sources for the opportunities to be fully realized. Communication of data and its use more effectively such as with AI and other technological innovations can potentially reduce waste, amplify sustainability, and protect health.

This need requires a trusted mechanism to enable different parties in the entire supply chain to support each entity to make informed decisions about the credibility of separate data sources. Organizations, however, are wary of communicating data which may be commercially sensitive. This has led to the development of new systems that can be trusted to protect privacy while at the same time allow wider use of the collected data.

Meanwhile, the article alerts that the new technology may also cause ethical issues and further unexpected, harmful consequences.

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