The future of ethics assessment: SATORI’s European standard

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SATORI standard


Dr Rowena Rodrigues | Head of Innovation & Research

Date: 30 October 2020

How do we embed ethics in innovation? As innovations do not follow a fixed recipe, their development or usemay raise ethical concerns or unintended consequences. A successful innovation must, therefore, address ethical impacts at an early stage through an ethics impact assessment and/or the support of an ethics committee. Consequently, within the development of emerging technologies, ethics should not be considered an add-on, but business as usual.

Particularly in the field of information technology, ethical discussions have received increased public attention. Organisations can manage the ethical considerations around their innovations by embedding them in their R&D processes, for example by establishing an ethics committee or conducting an ethics impact assessment before the start of a project.

The European standard CWA 17145 guides organizations in establishing or improving these practices.

The European standard CWA 17145

A CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) is a type of standard that is developed in a workshop setting rather than a technical committee. It takes less than a year to develop and has a maximum lifespan of 6 years.

The European standard CWA 17145 Ethics assessment of research and innovation was developed in the context of the EU funded SATORI project in 2017 and is now undergoing its first systematic review.

The European standard CWA 17145 consists of two parts. The first part provides organizations with a practical tool to help them establish and run an ethical assessment unit, which will in turn strengthen and improve the ethics assessment of their research and innovation practices.

The second part of the agreement provides researchers and ethics assessors a ‘how to’ for ethical impact assessment, a practical, policy-oriented guide aimed at maximizing the benefits and minimizing the potential harm of the research or innovation.

Our research

One of our core areas of expertise at Trilateral is understanding and anticipating the impacts of new technologies and their social, ethical, legal and political impacts in particular.

We’ve been exploring the impact of new technologies at different scales and in particular domains of innovation, such as artificial intelligence, smart information systems and robotics. Read about our work in SHERPA and SIENNA.

As part of the SATORI project, Trilateral has developed a European framework for common basic ethical principles and joint approaches and practices with the objective of harmonizing and improving ethics assessment practices of research and innovation.

The framework is a comprehensive approach for ethically assessing the actual and potential mid- and long-term impacts of research and innovation on society. It is applicable to all researchers and innovators, regardless of the context they are working in or their research and innovation area.

For more information on our work in this research area please contact our team.

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