“Ethics by Design” for new and emerging technologies

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Nicole Santiago | Senior Research Analyst
Anaïs Rességuier | Senior Research Analyst

Date: 9 July 2021

Trilateral Research joins 9 partners from across the EU in the three-year Horizon 2020 TechEthos project to establish an “Ethics-by-Design” framework for new and emerging technologies with high socio-economic impact.

Technological developments and breakthroughs can bring spectacular changes to society. Ongoing research has identified many technologies that will grow and revolutionise human life, for example, technologies in the field of virtual reality, autonomous systems, human enhancement and geo-engineering technologies.

However, such technologies may have significant ethical and social implications. To maximise their benefits it is essential to prioritise ethics and societal values from the conception to the implementation of these systems.

The TechEthos project aims to fill this role by integrating ethics and social values in the design and development of new and emerging technologies with high socioeconomic impact by developing an Ethics by Design methodology.

Ethics by Design is an approach for ensuring that a technology or system is aligned with ethical values and principles. It aims to include ethical principles in the design and development processes of technological systems in order to prevent ethical issues from arising in the first place, rather than trying to fix them after the damage has been done.

The TechEthos project

The TechEthos project was formally launched on 28 January 2021 by the scientific partners, six science engagement organisations from across Europe, and four representatives from the European Commission.

TechEthos will focus on these key aspects:

  1. Scan the technology horizon to identify 3-4 new and emerging technologies with high socio-economic impact and challenging ethical issues
  2. Conduct three analyses for each technology (ethical, policy, and legal analysis) to identify potential ethical, policy and legal implications
  3. Enhance ethical and legal frameworks and produce a set of operational guidelines to support the research community in integrating ethics concerns and societal values into research protocols and technology design

Operational guidelines and ethics frameworks produced by past H2020 projects, such as SIENNA, SHERPA, PANELFIT, and SATORI will form the basis of TechEthos’ “Ethics-by-design” approach.

Trilateral Research’s role in TechEthos is to conduct the legal analysis for each of the selected technologies. We will identify legal issues and challenges, with a focus on those affecting socio-economic inequalities, including disparities in health treatment; social status and social inclusion; gender equality; and fundamental rights and freedoms on individuals, and consider what measures can be taken to mitigate and avoid unwanted negative impact to societal values or risks to fundamental rights.

Meet the team

The project is coordinated by AIT Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria). Other consortium partners include Italian Association for Industrial Research (Italy), All European Academies (Germany), Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (France), De Montfort University (UK), Ecsite – The European Network of Science Engagement Organisations (Belgium), European Network of Research Ethics Committee Office (Germany), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) and University of Twente (Netherlands). We are also working alongside Linked Third Parties, including Science Centre network (Austria), iQLANDIA (Czech Republic), Bucharest Science Festival (Romania), The Centre for the Promotion of Science (Serbia), Parque de las Ciencias (Spain), and Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Sweden).

For more information, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin and join our project newsletter. By joining our online community you will be first in line to discover the emerging technologies the project selects as the focus of its work and will become a contributor yourself in shaping their future.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement No 101006249.

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