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Human Freedom and Choice in the Light of Technological Change. Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow 2020



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Nuremberg/St. Gallen
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What does Freedom in a Digital World mean for the Decision-Makers of Tomorrow?

New study: "Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow 2020"

Nuremberg/St. Gallen, 13 May 2020 – In the future, decisions will increasingly be made in a situation of conflict between one's own will, artificial intelligence and economic interests. Do tomorrow's decision-makers see technological developments as limiting their freedom of information and decision-making? Or even as patronizing? And how do they see the role of artificial intelligence? Have older generations been too short-sighted in their thinking and decision-making and lived at the expense of the younger generations? For the seventh time, the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) conducted the study "Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow" in cooperation with the St. Gallen Symposium.

The topic of this year's study was "Human Freedom and Choice in the Light of Technological Change". Almost 900 young top talents from the international network of the St. Gallen Symposium were surveyed.

Individual freedom needs clear boundaries where it harms society

This is the clear opinion of the young top talents, including young managers from companies, young entrepreneurs and top-qualified students, in the current study. The Leaders of Tomorrow demand more responsible decision-making and are clearly critical of older generations: They criticize an abuse of freedom at the expense of younger generations. In particular, they complain about short-term thinking, exploitation of the environment and an excessive focus on economic growth and their own wealth. They reject an egocentric interpretation of individual freedom.

The Leaders of Tomorrow also expect more from companies regarding the Internet. Many consider it appropriate to oblige social media to censor fake news and hate speech and to make platforms responsible for published content. Opt-in for the use of personal data should be the standard, so that users control their own data.

Clear criticism of new technologies that limit our freedom of choice

The young top talents see many advantages in new technologies, but also downsides. Almost two thirds (65 percent) complain that their smartphone negatively impacts their ability to concentrate and nearly as many (62 percent) find that their smartphone demands too much of their time. Likewise, about two thirds feel restricted in their freedom of information and decision-making by algorithms that filter online content. Three-quarters of the Leaders of Tomorrow consider the use of sophisticated technical pre-settings to influence an individual's decision – so-called "nudging" or "choice architecture" – an "unfair" or "intolerable" encroachment on their own freedom of choice.

The delegation of decisions to artificial intelligence (AI) strongly depends on the nature of the tasks

This does not mean, however, that the young talents are fundamentally opposed to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in decision-making processes. On the contrary, they expect better decisions for various tasks in companies by integrating AI in decision-making processes. Around half of the respondents even consider the use of AI to be appropriate for sensitive issues such as selecting job candidates. Three quarters see clear advantages in the use of AI for developing new products. However, most want a human to have the final say when making the decision.

"Despite their openness to new technologies, the Leaders of Tomorrow are eager to defend human freedom of decision against the growing influence of artificial intelligence and commercial interests," said Dr. Andreas Neus, Managing Director of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions, commenting on one of the key results. "The question of how we as humans maintain meaningful control over our decisions, in a world increasingly shaped by AI, has not really been answered so far. But as a society, we urgently need to solve this challenge."

About the study

In February 2020, a total of 898 young leaders, young start-up entrepreneurs and students from more than 90 countries took part in the "Leaders of Tomorrow 2020" study. The participants in the study were recruited from the global network of the St. Gallen Symposium (top talents are not representative of the overall population). The study report can be downloaded on the website of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions and the St. Gallen Symposium homepage as of today.

Contact St. Gallen Symposium:

Melanie Monstein
Media Relations
+41 71 227 20 20

Web | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Youtube 

Contact Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions:

Claudia Gaspar
Head of Surveys
+49 911 95151983

Sandra Lades
Communication and Events
+49 911 95151989

Web | Twitter | LinkedIn | Youtube

Please read also:
NIM press release of 27 April 2018: Artificial Intelligence in Management

About the St. Gallen Symposium

The St. Gallen Symposium is one of the world’s leading initiatives for intergenerational dialogue on business, political, and social themes and developments. For 50 years, in May, we have brought together established leaders and visionaries with extraordinary young talents for three days in St. Gallen. Together, they address the chances and challenges of our time and work on finding solutions. The St. Gallen Symposium is a student initiative. With the accompaniment of the St. Gallen Foundation for International Studies, the International Students’ Committee – a team comprised of about 30 students from the University of St. Gallen (HSG) – organizes an internationally important event. Past symposium debates have been enriched by participation of figures like Christine Lagarde (European Central Bank), Christian Mumenthaler (Swiss Re), Jack Ma (Alibaba Group), Professor Niall Ferguson (Stanford University), Kersti Kaljulaid (President of Estonia), Sigmar Gabriel (former German Vice-Chancellor) or Anders Fogh Rasmussen (NATO). Further information can be found at; Twitter: SG__Symposium / Facebook: St. Gallen Symposium / LinkedIn: St. Gallen Symposium / Instagram: stgallensymposium

About the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM)

The Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions is a non-profit organization for the research of consumer and market decisions. At the interface of science and practice, NIM examines how consumer and business decisions in markets are changing. The objective is to better understand consumers' decisions as well as those of marketing executives and to contribute to improving the quality of market decisions by sharing this knowledge. Its members include both companies and individuals interested in market decisions. The Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions is the founder and anchor shareholder of GfK SE. For more information, visit www.nim.orgFollow us on Twitter.       

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