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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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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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    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! Discover TechEthos installation

    Y/our Ethics Decide! Discover TechEthos innovative installations
    26 October 2023

    Authored by: Giuseppe Loveno Garofalo
    Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj

    News | 26 October 2023

    In the rapidly evolving landscape of new and emerging technologies, TechEthos is set to captivate audiences across Europe with a series of original installations, focusing on two technology families: Digital Extended Reality and Climate Engineering. Designed to leave an indelible mark on diverse audiences, starting from October, these interactive experiences will be displayed in the six science engagement organisations involved in the project. Whether visitors are experts in the field, teachers, students, or the general public, the goal is to foster a deep understanding of the ethical considerations that support the development, deployment, and impact of TechEthos technology families.

    Building on the project’s Ethics by Design approach, the installation reflects the attitudes, concerns and values shared by the different stakeholders’ groups involved in the project. By emphasizing critical thinking, responsible research, and awareness of innovation’s impact, we aim to make the complex world of emerging technologies relatable, personal, and empowering to the public.

    Through our installations, we invite you to explore the interactive displays, reflect on your values and be part of the conversation. Our well-thought and attractive design will serve as a gateway to a world where ethics should not be an afterthought but an integral part of technological progress. For a more interactive experience, the TechEthos setups incorporate digital elements like stand-alone screens and hands-on activities. Designated discussion corners will invite visitors to investigate deeper technology-related issues, fostering an environment of engagement and critical discourse. Workshops and conferences, featuring guest experts, add another layer to the overall experience.

    News | 26 October 2023   

    Until December 17, the Center for the Promotion of Science gives the opportunity to learn more about the functioning of chatbots, and the social and ethical challenges brought by emerging technologies, like natural language processing (University of Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy)

    TechEthos installations are not just exhibits — they are gateways to an ideal future where technology and ethics converge. Do not just witness the future, but contribute to shaping it at a TechEthos installation near you!

    Check out the upcoming installations

    • Romania, Bucharest – National Museum of Geology – October 2023
    • Liberec, Czechia – iQLANDIA – November 2023
    • Belgrade, Serbia – University of Belgrade: Faculty of Philosophy – October-December 2023
    • Austria, Vienna – ScienceCenter Network – September-December 2023
    • Granada, Spain – Parque de las Ciencias – November-April 2023
    • Umeå, Sweden – Curiosum Science Centre – November 2023

    Are you looking forward to learning more about emerging technologies? Get to know the science engagement organisations behind our installations.

    Too far from our installations? Embark on Y/our Ethics Digital Installation here!

    To learn more about TechEthos follow the project on Twitter and LinkedIn,  and sign up to the project newsletter. By joining the online community, you will be first in line to discover the technologies the project selects as the focus of its work and contribute to shaping the technologies of the future.

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    ALLEA publishes 2023 revised edition of The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

    ALLEA publishes 2023 revised edition of The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

    Authored by: Mathijs Vleugel (ALLEA)
    Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj (Ecsite)

    News | 13 September 2023

    On 23 June 2023, ALLEA released the 2023 revised edition of “The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity”, which takes account of the latest social, political, and technological developments, as well as trends emerging in the research landscape. These revisions took place in the context of the EU-funded TechEthos project, with the aim to also identify gaps and necessary additions related to the integration of ethics in research protocols and the possible implications of new technologies and their applications.

    Together, these changes help ensure that the European Code of Conduct remains fit for purpose and relevant to all disciplines, emerging areas of research, and new research practices. As such, the European Code of Conduct can continue to provide a framework for research integrity to support researchers, the institutions in which they work, the agencies that fund them, and the journals that publish their work.

    The Chair of the dedicated Code of Conduct Drafting Group, Prof. Krista Varantola, launched the new edition under the auspices of ALLEA’s 2023 General Assembly in London, presenting the revised European Code of Conduct to delegates of ALLEA Member Academies in parallel with its online release to the wider research community.

    The 2023 revised edition

    The revisions in the 2023 edition of the European Code of Conduct echo an increased awareness of the importance of research culture in enabling research integrity and implementing good research practices and place a greater responsibility on all stakeholders for observing and promoting these practices and the principles that underpin them. It likewise accommodates heightened sensibilities in the research community to mechanisms of discrimination and exclusion and the responsibility of all actors to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.

    The revised European Code of Conduct also takes account of changes in data management practices, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as recent developments in Open Science and research assessment. In the meantime, Artificial Intelligence tools and social media radically change how research results are produced and communicated, and the revised European Code of Conduct reflects the challenges these technologies pose to uphold the highest standards of research integrity.

    The revisions process

    From early 2022, the Drafting Group, consisting of members of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics, set about exploring what changes would be needed to update the 2017 edition of the European Code of Conduct to ensure it reflects the current views on what are considered good research practices. Their work culminated in October 2022 in a draft revised document being sent for consultation to leading stakeholder organisations and projects across Europe, including representative associations and organisations for academia, publishers, industry, policymaking, and broader societal engagement.

    The response to this stakeholder consultation was exceptional, indicating a sense of ownership and engagement with the European Code of Conduct amongst the research community. As part of this stakeholder consultation process, the views of the TechEthos consortium partners were collected both in writing and during an online workshop.

    All feedback was captured and discussed in detail in February 2023 by the Drafting Group. A summary of the stakeholder feedback process and how this informed the 2023 revision can be found at: https://allea.org/code-of-conduct/.

     

     

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    Highlighting key ethical issues determined from scenario creation, expert engagement and citizen engagement via game-based methodology and workshops

    Highlighting key ethical issues determined from scenario creation, expert engagement and citizen engagement via game-based methodology and workshops

    12 September 2023

    Authored by: Robyn Sahota (Ecsite)
    Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj (Ecsite) and Wenzel Mehnert (AIT)

    Article | 12 September 2023

    Introduction to the multi-stage and multi-stakeholder scenario methodology

    This article, summarizing the report D3.1, discusses the involvement of various stakeholders, including the research community and the general public, in considering the ethical implications of new and emerging technologies. This process is outlined as a multi-stage and multi-stakeholder approach within the TechEthos project. The approach involves three stages: creating basic technology scenarios, enriching these scenarios through engagement with experts, and further enhancing them through engagement with the public. This method aims to facilitate the expression of stakeholders’ attitudes, values, and expectations regarding the ethical dimensions of uncertain technologies.

    The methodology for societal acceptance analysis includes mapping innovation ecosystems for selected technology families based on horizon scanning, creating basic scenarios for each technology family, and developing scenario exercises and games (see: the ‘TechEthos game: Ages of Technology Impact’). This is done in collaboration with science engagement professionals, gathering expert opinions on ethical implications through the basic scenarios, and obtaining public perspectives on ethical implications through engagement with citizens from various European countries. This approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of different stakeholder viewpoints.

    The mapping of innovation ecosystems involves identifying stakeholders associated with three chosen technology families: climate engineering, digital extended reality, and neurotechnologies. The report provides brief descriptions of each family, its relevant technologies and case studies, and the stakeholders involved. The mapping process considers the technological context, relevant stakeholders such as researchers, technology experts, legal and policy experts, ethics experts, civil society organizations, media, and EU-funded projects.

    The development of basic scenarios using the STEEPV framework

    To evaluate the results, the STEEPV heuristic was applied, to form a common ground between the three stages mentioned above (basic scenarios, expert engagement, citizen engagement). The STEEPV framework is an analytical tool designed to comprehend external environmental changes amid uncertainty, information overload, and disruptions. The acronym covers six dimensions: Social, Technological, Economical, Ecological, Political & Legal, and Human Values developments (see D3.1, section 6.1). These dimensions explore factors like demographics, innovation, market dynamics, ecological impacts, regulations, and cultural influences. By dissecting these facets, STEEPV offers a comprehensive view of the evolving external environment, aiding in understanding past, present, and potential future trends.

    The process involves several steps. First, trends and driving forces related to three technology families are identified, focusing on short, medium, and long-term impacts. This is informed by literature review and the results of the ecosystem mapping, yielding an overview of future developments based on STEEPV factors. Second, key factors characterized by “high impact” and “high uncertainty” are chosen from the trend list. This differentiation aids in forming projections for potential futures. Third, projections are developed using a 2×2 matrix, placing each key factor in the center and selecting two dimensions of uncertainty. About 4 projections per key factor per technology result. Fourth, a contingency analysis clusters these projections across STEEPV factors to form raw scenarios, capturing diverse yet plausible potential futures. This yields 3 contrasting raw scenarios per technology. Fifth, partner validation and feedback refine the scenarios, resulting in 3 contrasting basic scenarios per technology.

    The basic scenarios were then advanced through a consultation with experts, where they contemplated the ethical concerns linked with the technology families as depicted in the scenarios. The suggested expert solutions to these ethical matters are elaborated upon in document D3.5. Next, the citizens’ awareness and perspectives were considered in the format of science cafes and game workshops. In the remainder of this article we will discuss the general outcomes from this process.

    Key takeaways per technology family:

    Climate Engineering (CE)

    In the social dimension, discussions revolved around inequality, equity, and global consequences, with experts focusing on geopolitical and environmental instability, while citizens expressed concerns about human health impacts. Safety and reliability were highly valued by citizens but received less attention in basic scenarios and expert opinions. In the technological dimension, effectiveness and efficiency were central themes, and both groups emphasized “techsolutionism,” prompting discussions on alternative solutions and the need for trustworthiness and transparency. The ecological dimension emphasized ecosystem health and biodiversity, with citizens favouring natural approaches. Economic discussions centered on growth and local impacts for citizens, while experts addressed power dynamics. Both groups emphasized distributive justice in the political dimension, and citizens also discussed liability concerns. In the value dimension, lifestyle changes and moving away from consumerism were suggested alternatives, with varying perspectives on “techsolutionism” between experts and citizens.

    Digital Extended Reality (XR)

    In the social dimension, fears of a social divide, increased mental health challenges, and lack of authentic human connections due to virtualization were prominent. Technologically, ensuring safety, reliability, and trustworthiness of the were crucial, while ecological concerns involved increased CO2 emissions, rare earth mining, and changes in urban forms due to virtualization. Economically, XR’s impact on education, labour markets, and work-life balance raised both excitement and concerns. The political dimension highlighted data protection, democracy issues, and the lack of regulation for digital companies. In the value dimension, concerns included dignity of posthumous data, enhanced social isolation, biases (e.g., gender, race) in technology, and the potential loss of authentic human connections and experiences.

    Neurotechnologies (NT)

    In the social dimension, human health is prioritized, but concerns arise about altering definitions of disabilities or enhancements, potentially leading to discrimination. Technology gaps between users and non-users in different fields of application, like labour markets and individual enhancement, must be addressed for equal accessibility. Autonomy and agency are crucial, focusing on avoiding manipulative influences and ensuring data privacy. The technological dimension stresses responsible use, safety, reliability, and data privacy. The ecological dimension emphasizes ecosystem health, energy consumption, maintenance, and sustainability. The economic dimension discusses private company power, and data use transparency. The political dimension raises concerns about responsible use, neurodiscrimination, governance of big data, and infringement of autonomy. The value dimension calls for a human-centered approach, considering diverse perspectives, including neurodiversity.

    Conclusions

    Three overarching themes emerged from the analysis: equity, reliability, and environmental sustainability.

    1. Equity: The fair and just distribution of benefits and risks associated with emerging technologies. This includes considerations of accessibility, affordability, and fair distribution of benefits to prevent potential social divides and ensure responsible innovation.
    2. Reliability: Concerns about the feasibility, safety, and accountability of technologies and their applications. It involves ensuring that technologies work as intended, with minimal unintended side-effects, and companies being held accountable for their actions if necessary.
    3. Environmental Sustainability: Focusing on the minimal negative impact of technologies on the environment while promoting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. This includes addressing climate change, pollution, resource depletion, and habitat destruction in the development and use of technologies, as well as rising energy consumption and CO2 emissions by providing a globally accessible infrastructure for digital applications.

    The report’s multi-stakeholder approach showcased the complexity of ethical issues and the importance of considering diverse perspectives when responsibly developing emerging technologies. The findings contribute to the ongoing discussion on ethical and social impacts of these technologies and inform the operationalization of guidelines in future projects.

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    Citizen awareness and attitudes towards emerging technologies: key takeaways from engagement workshops

    Citizen awareness and attitudes towards emerging technologies: key takeaways from engagement workshops

    12 September 2023

    Authored by: Robyn Sahota (Ecsite)
    Reviewed by: Greta Alliaj (Ecsite) and Wenzel Mehnert (AIT)

    Article | 12 September 2023

    An important perspective the TechEthos project wanted to highlight alongside expert opinions was the citizen perspective. To encourage participation and facilitate conversation, an interactive game (D3.2) was developed to discuss the ethical issues related to climate engineering (CE), digital extended reality (XR), neurotechnologies (NT), and natural language processing (NLP). The goal of this exercise was to understand citizens awareness and attitudes towards these emerging technologies to provide insight into what the general public finds important.

    First Science cafes were held, providing a casual forum for conversation in order to give the public general knowledge and build interest about the three technology families. These science cafes were conducted in: Vienna (Austria), Liberec (Czech Republic), Bucharest (Romania), Belgrade (Serbia), Granada (Spain), and Stockholm (Sweden). These sessions lasted around 90 minutes and consisted of short pitches from invited speaks, Q&A sessions, icebreakers, and open conversation.  

    Following these science cafes was then the scenario game workshops (D3.1, section 5) held in the aforementioned countries, for a total of 20 events. These workshops engaged a wide audience from varied backgrounds, with an average of 16 participants per workshop with a duration of four hours. These workshops involved an introduction, warm-up, game play, reflection and a post-participation survey. Most participants were motivated to join these workshops due to their curiosity about technology (47.1%), followed by the desire to be involved in how technology develops (16.2%). 40 participants said they took part to the workshop because of their passion for the technology (12.5%). The gender representation in participation was fairly balanced when considering the combined country data per technology family workshop. 

    Awareness

    Overall, there was an even distribution of awareness (very aware, somewhat aware, not really aware) among the technology families. 70% of the participants had heard of the technology families discussed, with affective computing being the least known field (48.9% not really aware) and chatbots being the most known field (47.9% very aware), both within the NLP family. The awareness of chatbots can be linked to the prevalence in the general public’s daily life (e.g., Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, ChatGPT). In discussions about virtual reality (89% are somewhat or very aware) and brain-computer interfaces (74% are somewhat or very aware), Science-Fiction served as a prominent frame of reference, shaping awareness, perception, and value of these technologies. Looking at the specific technologies in each technology family, we see that the most prominent technologies in CE are nature-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR), in NT brain-computer interfaces, and in NLP and XR it is chatbots and virtual reality.

    The least known technologies within the technology families are similar distributed. Every third participant has not heard of solar radiation management (SRM) and Engineered CDR in CE, all three technologies in NT, and affective computing and digital twins in NLP and XR.

    Citizens’ attitudes

    Nature-based CDR emerged as the most favored technology, being perceived as environmentally friendly and balanced with nature. Conversely, SRM raised significant concerns among participants due to potential unforeseen disasters and pollution.

    Neuroimaging generated the most enthusiasm, promising enhanced disease diagnosis and prevention. However, the brain-computer interface elicited worries about manipulation and data protection.

    Among NLP technologies, chatbots and text analysis excited participants, offering simplicity and improved work efficiency. On the other hand, affective computing raised concerns about misuse and data privacy.

    In the XR family, virtual reality excited participants, providing immersive experiences of distant or historical places. Meanwhile, the metaverse caused apprehension due to potential loss of human connection and data privacy issues.

    Acceptance

    The results indicate that participants generally accept the presented technologies, as the votes for excitement outweigh the votes for concerns. However, it’s important to note that participants often hold both excitement and concerns simultaneously, making their acceptance more complex.

    In the post-survey conducted after game exercises and group deliberations, over 70% of participants expressed excitement or high excitement about possible future developments of the technologies. Simultaneously, approximately 50% of participants conveyed concerns or slight concerns regarding the technologies’ future developments.

    Accepting emerging technology is complex as it involves shaping the yet-to-be-created intervention. Participants accept technology if certain conditions (X) are met or issues (Y) are prevented. Their mixed feelings of excitement and concerns reveal the need to understand shared values when discussing acceptance of emerging technologies. Reflecting on citizens’ values helps to comprehend their acceptance and to develop technologies more responsible.

    Citizen values

    From the workshop comments the citizen value categories (D3.1, Table 24) were extracted through qualitative coding, allowing for comparisons across all workshops.

    Each technology family exhibits distinct prominent values. In the NT domain, human health, safety, and responsibility are emphasized due to its focus on the brain and nervous system. NLP and XR prioritize authentic human connection, experience, and responsible use, considering their aim to simulate human interactions.

    CE highlights ecosystem health, followed by safety, reliability, effectiveness, efficiency, and justice, given its focus on manipulating natural systems. Safety and reliability are important across all three families. Responsible use and accountability are vital in NT, NLP, and XR. Ecosystem health is a shared concern across all families.

    Conclusion

    These workshops explored public awareness, attitudes, and citizen values towards emerging technologies. The goal was to elicit citizens’ excitements and concerns to inform ethical guidelines, which are then discussed in WP5, and to involve a diverse audience, including vulnerable groups, often underrepresented in expert processes. Overall, the “TechEthos game: Ages of Technology Impact” facilitated open and creative discussions.

    Common value categories emerged across the technology families through these discussions:
    1. Safety and reliability: Participants expressed worries about unknown effects, potential dangers, and health impacts in CE, XR, and NT.
    2. Equity, diversity, and inclusion: Concerns centered on global distributive justice, access for all social groups, and respecting neurodiversity.
    3. Responsible use and accountability: Participants stressed the importance of accountability for potential disasters, consequences, and data privacy in CE, XR, and NT.

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    TechEthos Policy Event: Ethics for the Green and Digital transition

    Event | 14 November 2023
    TechEthos policy event: Ethics for the Green and Digital Transition

    The TechEthos project presents their final one-day policy event in Brussels on the ethical governance of emerging technologies for the green and digital transition.

    Interested to attend the event?

    Event description

    TechEthos will hold an in-person policy event in Brussels, Belgium, on 14 November 2023, co-hosted by Barbara Thaler, Member of the European Parliament & STOA Panel. The event focuses on the ethical governance of emerging technologies in the digital transformation and green transition. The event will bring together high-level experts in these fields, including EU policymakers, researchers from academia, and industry representatives to discuss the ethical governance of emerging technologies for the digital transformation and green transition.

    The morning session will focus on ethics for the digital transformation, whilst the afternoon programme is dedicated to ethics for the green transition (see full programme below). Both the morning and afternoon programme feature keynote speeches and expert panel discussions on the ethical governance of emerging technologies in the digital and green transition. This conference will tap into ongoing ethical debates as well as existing and expected EU policy debates such as the proposed AI Act, the implementation of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, the European Green Deal, and the EC proposal for a Carbon Removal Certification Framework

    Whether you’re a policymaker, industry professional, researcher, or simply interested in the ethical implications of the green and digital transition, this event offers a unique opportunity to learn from experts, engage in meaningful discussions, and network with like-minded individuals.

    Don’t miss out on this exciting event! Mark your calendars and join us for a day of learning, collaboration, and exploration.

    Details

    Event date: Tuesday, 14 November 2023

    Location: Sparks meeting centre, 60 rue Ravenstein – 1000 Brussels, Belgium and online

    Event facilitator: Vivienne Parry

    Draft programme


    10:00–10:30

    Registration & Networking Coffee

    10:30–10:50

    Welcome
    Opening remark: Barbara Thaler, MEP & STOA member
    Introductory statement: Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General at DG for Research and Innovation

    10:50–11:00

    TechEthos in a nutshell: Eva Buchinger, TechEthos Coordinator

    Ethics for the digital transformation

    11:00–11:45

    Keynote: Laura Weidinger, Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind

    11:45–12:15

    Coffee break

    12:15–13:15

    Panel discussion on key ethical, social and regulatory challenges of Digital Extended Reality

    13:15–14:15

    Networking lunch

    Ethics for the green transition 

    14:15–15:00

    Keynote: Behnam Taebi, Full Professor of Energy & Climate Ethics at Delft University of Technology

    15:00-15:15

    Coffee break

    15:15–16:15

    Panel discussion on key ethical, social and regulatory challenges of Climate Engineering

    Highlights & Outlook for the ethical governance of emerging technologies 

    16:15–16:45

    TechEthos in the larger context of the ALLEA Code of Conduct: Maura Hiney (UCD Institute for Discovery)
    Legacies: foundation and continuation: Eva Buchinger (AIT), Laurence Brooks (University of Sheffield), Renate Klar (EUREC)

    16:45

    Adjourn


    Questions?

    Get in touch

    teamGreta Alliaj
    Ecsite – European Network of Science Centres and Museums

    galliaj@ecsite.eu

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    TechEthos game workshops: exploring public awareness & attitudes

    TechEthos game workshops: exploring public awareness & attitudes
    30 January 2023

    Authored by: Greta Alliaj
    Reviewed by: Cristina Paca

    Article | 30 January 2022

    What might a world in which technologies like the metaverse or neuroimaging have reached their full potential look like? What would it be like to live in a reality where such technologies are deployed in the most diverse fields, from education to justice, passing through marketing and entertainment? Imagine a world where neuroimaging is used to diagnose predispositions to certain neurological diseases. Such diagnosis could allow health professionals to better prevent a disease or decrease its impact on the patient, but at the same time, it could take a toll on people’s personal and professional relationships. Would you be in favour of implementing this technology?

    Last autumn, hundreds of citizens across Europe took part in the Tech Ethos Science Cafés and engaged with scientists, innovators and civil society representatives to learn more about our three families of technologies. Now, the six science engagement organisations involved in the project are ready to build on this experience and invite all technology enthusiasts out there to play our new board game: The Tech Ethos game: Ages of Technology Impacts.

    The TechEthos game is part of a longer workshop aimed at exploring the public’s attitudes towards Digital Extended Reality, Neurotechnologies and Climate Engineering. Participants will be invited to sit on their regional delegation to the Citizen World Council and decide what may be best for future generations and the Planet. Participants will forge the future starting from a set of technologies whose potential is not yet fully realised and each of their choices will have unforeseeable consequences.

    Each round, players will be asked to discuss and agree on which technologies they would like to see further developed in their ideal future and, to do so, they will be confronted with the ethical implications of these choices. What will be the values and principles that will guide their decisions?

    Throughout the different activities of the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to listen and learn from each other, express their concerns and defend their beliefs. This exchange will provide the project with insights into public attitudes and views on new and emerging technologies.

    18 game workshops will take place in Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Spain, and Sweden. To capture a broader and richer perspective, the six science engagement centres will collaborate with associations supporting groups whose access to such activities is often hindered by economic and social factors.

    Developed in co-creation with science engagement and game experts, the TechEthos game is essential in capturing ethical and societal values. This moves us closer to the project’s end goal, producing ethics guidelines that considers such values in the earliest phases of technology design and development.

    Would you be interested in taking part in the conversation and shaping your ideal world? Have a look at our game resource page, keep an eye on the activities of TechEthos science engagement centres and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

    More about the game

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    Exploring emerging technologies through the lens of human rights law

    Exploring emerging technologies through the lens of human rights law
    05 September 2022

    Authored by: Ben Howkins and Julie Vinders
    Reviewed by: Corinna Pannofino and Anaïs Resseguier

    News | 5 September 2022

    Technological innovation can both enhance and disrupt society in various ways. It often raises complex legal questions regarding the suitability of existing laws to maximise the benefits to society, whilst mitigating potential negative consequences. Some emerging technologies even challenge us to rethink the ways in which our fundamental rights as human beings are protected by law.

    For example, how do your rights as an individual stack up if your local environment is affected by climate engineering activities aimed at addressing global climate change? Or what would happen to the right to not self-incriminate if advanced neurotechnologies in the courtroom can provide insights into a defendant’s mental state? And how might digital extended reality (XR) affect online safety and the emerging rights to be online and to disconnect?

    A human rights impact assessment

    A recent study by the TechEthos project analysed international and European Union (EU) human rights law, including the International Bill of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (CFREU), in relation to climate engineering, neurotechnologies and digital extended reality (XR). While such legal frameworks do not explicitly mention climate engineering, many of the provisions contained therein are nonetheless likely to be directly applicable. By highlighting the potential for enhancements to and interferences with various human rights, the study essentially provides a human rights impact assessment of the three technology families. It identifies some gaps and legal uncertainties, which may give rise to the need for further legislation, or at least further legal clarification in the future.

    Read more about the human rights law implications of Climate Engineering, Neurotechnologies and Digital Extended Reality.

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