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The TechEthos Societal Readiness Web Tool (SRT)

The TechEthos Societal Readiness Tool
16 February 2024 

Authored by: Giuseppe Loveno Garofalo
Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj

Are you a developer concerned about the potential societal impacts of your innovative products? While dealing with new and emerging technologies, it is crucial to ensure that these innovations are not only beneficial but also ethically sound for society.

This is why it is important to keep track of the the societal readiness level. This level represents the degree to which a product can be trusted to fulfill its intended benefits within a real-world social setting, while adhering to ethical principles, preventing adverse societal impacts, and being governed, as needed, by robust legal frameworks.

Based on this concept, the TechEthos project produced the Societal Readiness Tool (SRT), primarily intended for use by actors in product design and innovation while developing their innovative products.

Tool | 15 February 2024

The SRT has two primary objectives.

  • It has a guidance goal, and assists users in fulfilling their responsibilities regarding the ethical and societal implications of their products. The SRT offers specific steps for consideration during design, deployment, and use, ensuring a comprehensive approach to addressing societal impacts.
  • It enables target users to conduct qualitative self-assessment of the product societal readiness level. Rather than imposing rigid and pre-determined criteria to assess this level, the tool offers a possibility for reflection, allowing users to make their own judgements about how effectively their products prevent possible negative societal effects while delivering intended benefits.

Do you want to know more about our tool? Read the full document.

Interested in using the SRT?

Read how to use it here and access the Web Tool here.

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TechEthos Societal Readiness Web Tool

Tool

Societal Readiness Web Tool

This article introduces the TechEthos Societal Readiness Web Tool, a prototype for a tool to help actors in product design innovation develop product social readiness, and to facilitate qualitative societal readiness self-assessment.

Have a closer look at Societal Readiness Web Tool

TechEthos Societal Readiness Tool is of particular interest to individuals in product design innovation, professional associations in product design fields, and academic researchers with an interest in product design ethics or product readiness from ethical, legal and social perspectives. 

The tool has two functions. First it offers a guidance function: a set of high-level and mid-level guidelines, the fulfilment of which will facilitate the achievement of societal readiness across a range of innovation fields. Users are then able to develop their operational understanding of the guidelines via exploration of potential violations, and the mitigating actions needed to respond to those violations through design, deployment and use-context interventions. 

Second, it offers an assessment function. On the basis of their engagement with the guidance function, users are guided through a simple self-assessment procedure, which outputs a readiness level indicator in the form of three levels of action that may still be required to achieve readiness. 

The tool is designed to be reiterative and reflexive, with users encouraged use the tool continuously throughout a project lifecycle, and to add new content to the tool on the basis of their ongoing usage of it. 

As the tool is generic, for use in any product innovation field, it constitutes a prototype to be adapted to a range of specific fields. Thus, we are especially interested in feedback from interested parties who may wish to develop the tool for use in specific product innovation fields. 

How to open the Web Tool?

Access the Web Tool here

After accessing the tool, users will be invited to select whether they wish to begin a new project, or return to progress already saved by means of a project code. First time users should select “New Project”.

Tool | 15 February 2024

The user will then be asked to enter the name of their project. This is a name chosen by the user. Below, users will find a project code. This code can be used to return to your progress using the tool in future sessions. Select “Next” will enter the tool.

The user will first be presented with a text box introducing the tool. This box can be closed by clicking outside it.

Instructions for using the tool can be accessed by clicking “How to Use” in the top right corner of the screen.

In the very top right corner of the screen, you will find your unique 10-digit project code. This is the same as the code displayed on the entry screen. Make a note of this code. Your progress using the tool will be automatically saved.

To return to saved progress, on navigating back to the tool page via the link below, select “Resume Existing”, and enter the code noted.

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Newsletter #9: Y/our ethics decide! installations, the Societal Readiness Tool, and Videos and Policy Brief Compilations

Newsletter #9
Spotlight on the Y/our ethics decide! installations, the Societal Readiness Tool, the TechEthos Anticipatory ethics Matrix, and Videos and Policy Brief Compilations

News | 17 may 2023

In short

Welcome to the ninth and final episode of the TechEthos newsletter series. In this issue, the spotlight is on a systematic approach for researchers, academics, and policymakers to navigate ethical concerns via the TechEthos Anticipatory ethics Matrix. We also focus on the Societal Readiness Tool, enabling product designers and innovators to undertake a product development process based on ethical and social impact considerations. Additionally, we share insights into the “Y/our Ethics Decide!” physical installations facilitated by six Science Engagement Organizations and provide information on our video and policy briefs compilations!

Date of publication

22 January 2024

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Installation Insights: TechEthos across 6 European Science Engagement Organisations

Installation Insights: TechEthos across 6 European Science Engagement Organisations
11 January 2024 

Authored by: Giuseppe Loveno Garofalo
Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj

To enhance awareness of the rapidly evolving landscape of new and emerging technologies, TechEthos six science engagement organisations hosted the TechEthos physical installation: Y/our ethics decide!

Starting from October 2023, their venues welcomed more than 70,000 visitors – with 100,000 expected for 2024 and 200,000 more for the following years. The installations were spread in nine locations (like museums, universities, science centres, and even shopping malls!) across Europe. They successfully reached a high variety of audiences, including high school and university students, younger audiences, the general public, families and adults but also vulnerable groups with socio-economic disadvantages.

The installations centred around two main technology families: Digital Extended Reality and Climate Engineering, each of these brought a unique local perspective, along with its own set of challenges and case studies.

Three science engagement centres focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), tackling topics like the ethics of using avatars and generated chat tools, the cultural applications of new technologies on language and education, and controversies regarding job replacement. The second group dealt with climate engineering practices, including subjects like cooling effects of plants in big cities and insights into local carbon capture facilities.

Installations on AI and NLP

    The Bucharest Science Festival (ASUR), together with the University of Bucharest, addresses the ethics of using AI-based avatars. They also permit visitors to interact with ChatGPT and AI-based image generators – involving them in discussions with local experts on relevant ethical challenges.

       

    Photos: Bucharest Science Festival (ASUR)

    The Center for the Promotion of Science (CPN) focuses more on educating about the cultural diversity of NLP datasets. Visitors can compare stylistic differences between chatbots’ and human linguistic capacities, watch an explanatory video on the future of AI, and attend engaging workshops. For instance, participants can create digital paintings using AI-based image generators like DALL-e – mimicking the styles of renowned Serbian artists!

       

    Photos: Center for the Promotion of Science (CPN)

    iQLANDIA educates on AI from the perspective of job replacement dynamics, creating an exhibition that invites visitors to discuss the positive and negative aspects of this technology.

    Photo: iQLANDIA

    Installations on Climate Engineering

    Parque de las Ciencias sets up an installation related to the Sierra Nevada Natural Park – in cooperation with the SmartEcoMountains EU-funded project.

    News | 11 January 2024

    Photo: Parque de las Ciencias

    The ScienceCenter-Network (SCN) focuses on the cooling effects of plants in big cities, with insights into future applications in water and green areas in the city and engaging workshops on how citizens can contribute to climate change mitigation. SNC also offers interesting insights into sub-technologies like Ground Based Albedo Modification (GBAM) and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

         

    Photos: ScienceCenter-Network (SCN)

    Vetenskap & Allmänhet (VA), in cooperation with a local energy company, educates on a new carbon capture facility currently under development and, more broadly, carbon capture technologies!

         

    Photo: Vetenskap & Allmänhet (VA)

    Are you looking forward to learning more about emerging technologies? Have a look at the installations that are available in 2024!

    IQLANDIA – Nitranská 410/10, 460 07 Liberec, Czechia 

    Installation of Artificial Intelligence (throughout 2024)

    Workshop for vulnerable group – learning difficulties (May 2024)

    Researcher’s Night – a special program for the audience (October 2024)

    Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Curiosum Science Centre) – Östra Strandgatan 32, 903 33 Umeå, Sweden 

    Installation on carbon capture (until July 2024)

    Parque de las Ciencias – Av. de la Ciencia, s/n, Ronda, 18006 Granada, Spain

    Installation on Climate Change (until 30 April 2024)

    Don’t you find physical installations nearby you? Have a look at our Digital Installation on the ethical dimensions of Climate Engineering and Natural Language Processing!

    Get to know the science engagement organisations behind our installations.

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    Advisory and impact board members’ activities, cooperation and clustering activities

    Deliverable
    Advisory and impact board members’ activities, cooperation and clustering activities

    Policy brief | 30 October 2023

    In short

    This deliverable provides information on the ADIM (advisory and impact) board and the cluster of related projects – vital to expand the project knowledge base and create synergies with other projects’ work.

    Spit in two parts, the report describes the activities of the individual ADIM board members and summarises the action of the TechEthos partners within the cluster of related projects.

    Find out more by downloading the deliverable.

    Author

    Renate Klar, and Mathijs Vleugel.

    Date of publication

    20 December 2023

    Status

    Draft version submitted to the European Commission for review

    Cite this resource

    Renate Klar & Mathijs Vleugel (2023). TechEthos Deliverable D6.3: Advisory and impact board members’ activities, cooperation and clustering activities. TechEthos Project Deliverable. Available at: www.techethos.eu.

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    Dissemination and Communication Report

    Deliverable
    Dissemination and Communication Report

    Policy brief | 30 October 2023

    In short

    In this deliverable, the TechEthos project reflects on the outcomes and results of its dissemination, and communication strategy – comparing and interpreting the data based on project activities.

    Find out more by downloading the deliverable.

    Author

    Greta Alliaj (Ecsite), and Clara Boissenin (Ecsite).

    Date of publication

    19 December 2023

    Status

    Draft version submitted to the European Commission for review

    Cite this resource

    Alliaj, G., Boissenin, C., (2023). D7.4 Dissemination and Communication report. TechEthos Project Deliverable. Available at: www.techethos.eu.

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    Societal Readiness Tool

    Deliverable
    Societal Readiness Tool (Pre-Final Version)

    Deliverable | 28 October 2023

    In short

    This deliverable introduces the TechEthos Societal Readiness Tool (SRT) – primarily intended for use by actors in product design and innovation.

    The goal of the report is two-fold. First, the deliverable provides guidance and enables to undertake a product development process based on ethical and social impact considerations from the very earliest stages. Also, the tool enables target users to conduct qualitative self-assessment of the readiness level of their products.

    Authors

    Bennet Francis (UT), Philip Brey (UT), Andrea Porcari (AIRI), Tynke Schepers (UT).

    Date of publication

    18 December 2023

    Status

    Pre-final Report for Dissemination

    Cite this resource

    Francis, B; Brey, P; Richardson, R; Umbrello, S; Porcari, A; Schepers, T (2023). D5.6 Ethical sensitivity tools: societal readiness tool and ethical role-playing tool.

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    Newsletter #8: Societal embedding of new and emerging technologies & TechEthos Anticipatory ethics Matrix (TEAeM)

    Newsletter #8
    Spotlight societal embedding of new and emerging technologies & TechEthos Anticipatory ethics Matrix (TEAeM)

    News | 17 may 2023

    In short

    Welcome to the eight episode of the TechEthos newsletter series. In this issue, the spotlight is on anticipating the societal embedding of new and emerging technologies and our exploration of public awareness in our technology families by using scenarios. We also share the TechEthos Anticipatory ethics Matrix  (TEAeM) supporting academia and policymakers in their assessment of ethical risks of the above-mentioned technologies.

    Date of publication

    30 November 2023

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    Navigating Ethical Horizons: Insights from TechEthos Policy Event

    Navigating Ethical Horizons: Insights from TechEthos Policy Event

    4 December 2023

    Authored by: Giuseppe Loveno Garofalo 
    Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj and Clara Boissenin

    Article | 12 September 2023

    The TechEthos Policy Event held in Brussels on 14 November 2023 brought together high-level experts, including EU policymakers, researchers from academia, and industry representatives to discuss the ethical governance of emerging technologies in the digital transformation and green transition. The event was moderated by science journalist and broadcaster Vivienne Parry and drew over 60 on-site and 24 virtual participants. With the mission to discuss the ethical implications of emerging technologies, it kicked off with the opening remarks of policy analyst Mihalis Kritikos (DG RTD) emphasizing the evolution of tech-related EU policies and the need of a just transition. Next, TechEthos coordinator, Eva Buchinger (AIT) illustrated the TechEthos vision and Ethics by Design approach.

    Ethics for the Digital Transformation

    The morning session delved into ethical considerations for Digital Transformation, with Laura Weidinger, Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind setting the scene for an insightful panel discussion. Highlighting AI Safety, especially Generative AI, during her keynote speech, Weidinger stressed:

    • The need for a sociotechnical approach in AI development which recognises potential repercussions of algorithms on individuals. To reach sociotechnical safety, developers must assess AI capability, human interaction, and potential side-effects after full deployment;
    • EU’s AI Act should proactively advocate for a balanced distribution of responsibility, emphasizing foresight and pre-market testing implementation.

    The session extended to explore ethical, social, and regulatory challenges of Digital Extended Reality through a dynamic panel discussion featuring Laura Weidinger, Alexei Grinbaum (CEA), Kevin MacNish (SOPRA STERIA), Alina Kadlubsky (Open AR Cloud Europe) and Ivan Yamshchikov (CAIRO). Key topics included:

    • Challenges in implementing Ethics by Design in XR applications. The creation of digital ‘twins’ via XR often produces static representations that may not capture the dynamic real-world evolution. Also, the integration of AI, visualization, and biometric data in human-machine interactions adds complexity, presenting ethical challenges in XR design and implementation;
    • Potential certification for development companies conducting impact assessments for their XR models;
    • Ethical concerns related to who shapes AI companions and their actions – raising debates over accountability;
    • The challenge of conceptual disentanglement in interactions between humans and AI companions, especially those with human-like attributes. These evolving relationships are understudied but may become a crucial focus in the future;
    • The absence of a one-size-fits-all rule complicates the implementation of the Ethics by Design approach.

         

    Ethics for the Green Transition

    In the afternoon session, Behnam Taebi, full Professor of Energy & Climate Ethics at Delft University of Technology addressed the urgent need for achieving net-zero by 2050, exploring the ethical controversies surrounding climate engineering techniques such as Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). Key takeaways included:

    • SRM offers substantial benefits in reducing the pace of temperature and sea level rise, but its impact on ozone depletion, drought, health, and agriculture remains unknown;
    • Advocacy for a “risk vs. risk” approach, weighing the risks of implementing climate engineering against the risks of not taking any action;
    • Recognition of the need for private funding to address climate challenges while emphasizing the importance of business models that transcend profit-centric approaches.

    The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion on the ethical, social, and regulatory challenges featuring Behnam Taebi, Dominic Lenzi (University of Twente), Dušan Chrenek (DG CLIMATE ACTION), and Matthias Honegger (Perspectives Climate Research). Key points discussed encompassed:

    • The need for a global collaboration for SRM research which incorporates principles of global justice, human rights protection, and legitimacy;
    • The necessity for effective and legitimate governance of research;
    • Warning about potential overreliance on the CDR technology – which might hinder emissions reduction efforts;
    • The need to clarify how CDR can be implemented in accordance with the EU principles, the biodiversity strategy 2030, and the UNFCCC’s principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities;
    • The necessity to scrutinize the role of fossil fuel industry in CDR deployment.

    Conclusion

    The conference ended with some final words from Maura Hiney (UCD Institute for Discovery), who contextualised the TechEthos project within the ALLEA Code of Conduct – a high-level framework for achieving high-quality, trustworthy, and responsible research. Finally, Eva Buchinger, Laurence Brooks (University of Sheffield), and Renate Klar (EUREC) provided some context concerning the project – seen as a continuation of previous projects and a foundation for future research on the ethics of emerging technologies.

    The TechEthos Policy Event attempted to explore the ethical implications of the digital transformation and green transition, unravelling challenges that define our technological future. In the convergence of innovation and moral responsibility, a clear call emerges for global discourse. It is in these considerations that we shape ethical frameworks, ensuring that technology serves humanity with integrity. The echoes of the discussions held should resonate, urging us to collectively navigate the ethical landscapes that lie ahead.

    Do you want to find out more? You can download the Event Slides here and take a look at the videos of the event on our YouTube Channel!

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    Y/our Ethics Decide: an interactive Digital Installation on the ethical dimensions of Climate Engineering and Natural Language Processing

    Tool

    Y/our Ethics Decide: an interactive Digital Installation on the ethical dimensions of Climate Engineering and Natural Language Processing

    In an era dominated by unprecedented technological advancements, the ethical implications of innovation must have a central role. Y/our Ethics Decide, a revolutionary digital installation, invites you to explore the complex interplay of ethics, technology, and societal values. Embark on this immersive experience, where “Ethics by design” shapes the narrative right from the inception of emerging technologies.

    Have a closer look at the Digital Installation

    Y/our Ethics Decide: A Visionary Approach to Tech Ethics

    Y/our Ethics Decide is not only a digital installation – but a journey into the future of responsible technology. Based on the principle of Ethics by design, Y/our Ethics ensures that societal values lead the way in the development of new technologies. This unique approach empowers individuals from diverse backgrounds to actively participate in shaping the ethical landscape of emerging realms.

    Climate Engineering: Addressing the Urgency of Our Time

    Y/our Ethics Decide navigates the realm of Climate Engineering. Technologies like Nature-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Engineered Carbon Dioxide Removal take center stage, aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change. Solar Radiation Management, a pivotal aspect of Climate Engineering, explores innovative methods to reflect sunlight and cool the planet.

    Natural Language Processing: Decoding the Heart of Digital Interaction

    Our digital installation delves into the heart of Digital Extended Reality. Here, artificial intelligence comprehends and responds to human communication, offering insights into the evolving landscape of interactive technologies. Affective computing and chatbots further enhance these capabilities, underscoring the critical need for responsible development in this fast-paced and dynamic space.

    Do you want to find out more and discover further information about emerging technologies? Check the interactive Y/our Ethics Decide here.

    This exhibition is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) licence. This means that it is open for sharing, copying and redistributing the material in any medium or format, and for adapting, remixing, transforming, and build upon the material for any purpose, including commercially. This is applicable for both the digital and the physical versions of the exhibition. You are required to credit Ecsite – the European Network of Science Centres & Museums, and the TechEthos project.

    Do you want to make your own version of the installation? 

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