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The Ethical GovernAnce of emergIng technologieS – New Governance Perspectives for Integrating Ethics into Technical Development Projects and Applications

Final Report Summary - EGAIS (The Ethical GovernAnce of emergIng technologieS – New Governance Perspectives for Integrating Ethics into Technical Development Projects and Applications)

Executive Summary:
Despite widespread awareness of the importance of ethics in research, and awareness about the importance of new forms of governance in an increasingly pluralist Europe, ethical governance is often carried out in a top-down, expert-driven process. Also, the strong push for technology development often obscures the need for any deep ethical consideration before a technical project is funded, developed and deployed. This has negative implications for the legitimacy and effectiveness of the ethical governance and for the integrity of the research. EGAIS provided advice on how to progress beyond the limits of the status quo and to permit the determination and treatment of ethical issues as well as the assessment of ethical impact in research. What EGAIS wanted to improve was the integration of ethical considerations within research projects’ development. EGAIS was concerned with the governance of ethics: with the institutional and organisational conditions that the procedures of assessment must fulfil so that ethical questions can be addressed.
Starting from the investigation of ethical governance procedures in EU research projects, EGAIS developed a framework for improved governance mechanisms able to identify and address potential ethical issues arising from new and emerging technologies in the early stages of development, moreover supporting the integration of ethical considerations of governance into the research and technology development culture of EU research.
EGAIS research has been pursued through: grounding the research on a strong theoretical basis, testing and evaluating premises through empirical research (Workpackage 2); assessing results against existing models of ethics governance to ascertain trends in governance within the EU projects investigated, comparing the trends to paradigms to gauge their influence on ethics governance processes, and testing the outcomes for portability across different research domains (i.e. beyond ICT) (Workpackage 3 and Workpackage 4).
In the final months of this project the research results were consolidated to draw conclusions on the issues and challenges for integrating the consideration of ethics within EU projects (including the proposal submission stages) as a basis for the development of an ethics governance approach. EGAIS demonstrated that classical proceduralism does not adequately address problems raised by an ethics of science and technology in Europe. Traditional approaches to ethics contain a ‘blind spot’ vis-à-vis the relationship between norms and contexts. Instead, EGAIS proposes a blending of approaches: procedural (rule-based), reflexive (context-based) and substantive (value-based), which EGAIS called "comprehensive proceduralism”. Based on the comprehensive proceduralist approach, guidelines were identified that can inform policymakers and researchers in planning, implementing and assessing the ethical governance of research both within research projects and in a broader policy context.
In applying a comprehensive proceduralist approach to the ethical governance of emerging technologies and through implementing and monitoring the use of ethical tools as outlined within the project, it is EGAIS’ contention that ethical governance can become a dialogical, open, legitimate and effective force in a manner that is consistent, assessable and repeatable. Given that there are different levels of stakeholders involved in this process, inclusivity is an important concept in the overall problematic (researcher, social actor, policy-maker, industry etc.) It is therefore highly important that means are developed through which to inform these differently interested and informed stakeholders of what this nuanced approach to ethical governance is and entails.
Project Context and Objectives:
Given the impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on all aspects of life today, it appears important to consider potential ethical issues before and during information technology development. As ICT becomes more complex and invisible to the user (as envisioned in the concepts of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence) and converges with other new and emerging technologies the potential for ethical impact increases. At the same time the ability to anticipate these effects by the proposers of the technology projects can be more difficult (due to the complexity and convergence issues). Additionally, the strong push for technology development often obscures the need for any deep ethical consideration before a technical project is funded, developed and deployed.
Within this scenario, EGAIS investigated how, and where, the consideration of the potential ethical aspects of the technology could be incorporated into the research and technology development culture of European Commission funded research, so that these considerations become a more natural part of the proposal evaluation and technical development processes. The aim of the EGAIS project was to elaborate a new perspective on the ethical governance of research projects in Europe, mainly in the technical field.
Our research problem derived from our argument that there is a wide gap between the ethical and technical communities in attending to ethical problems in technology development projects and that we believed ethics should go beyond being treated as an ad hoc strategy. We also argued that most of the ethical approaches in the theoretical realm undermine the context under which an ethical norm comes to life and limit themselves to pre-supposed and pre-determined reasoning. The problem of cognitive closure lies in the centre of these limitations. Our concern was that the technical and scientific value systems may obscure the moral reason and deteriorate the other potentially relevant (external) framings driving the construction of the norm.
To investigate the research problem, EGAIS analysed the governance of ethics, which is the institutional and organisational conditions that the procedures of assessment must fulfill so that ethical questions can be addressed. From the very beginning the focus was on the question of the effectiveness of ethical norms, from the conditions of their emergence and production to their implementation within a social context. This effectiveness is rarely, if ever, questioned. Theoretical approaches to date implicitly presuppose the conditions that determine the effectiveness of the implementation of the norm come from ‘cognitive rules’ (i.e. are a function of mental capacities) and which are therefore independent of the external subjects’ own context.
From a methodological perspective, through the empirical analysis data were collected from technical research projects funded by the EU as part of the FP6 and FP7 programs, which employed Ambient Intelligence. The initial focus on the Ambient Intelligence projects allowed the EGAIS group to make a targeted yet representative study of ICT research projects. The different types of ethical governance and reflexivity that are used in EU projects were identified. The aim was not to create a quantitative or statistical study of reflexivity of governance within the projects, nor to compare the effectiveness of particular approaches or tools. Instead the interest was in the determination and the assessment of the limitations and the effectiveness of implementation of the different existing approaches.
In a further research stage, the analysis was extended to some other fields of technological development: ethics and governance in other technological fields (i.e. nanotechnology, nuclear technology and hazardous activities); ethics and governance in the EU; ethics and governance in innovation and design; ethics and governance in foresight.
The general diagnosis as shared by many assessors and officials in Europe, is that the current procedures for ethical assessment of scientific and technical research projects are not satisfying and can be improved. One of the reproaches that are usually made concerning the current procedures of assessment is their lack of ethical reflexivity and of opening to the society. The risk with this kind of assessment procedure is to reduce the ethical questioning to the criterion of legal compliance with law or regulation. Of course, the situation is not better if, instead of it, the criterion is that of moral compliance, if that means applying a set of pre-existing moral rules, like a code of deontology. What is at stake, indeed, remains the ethical legitimacy of the specific morals that is requested and used as a guiding tool for the ethical assessment.
In the current assessment procedures, a scientific or technical research project is taken to be acceptable once it is shown to fit the legal or moral criteria that are usually regarded as the condition for it to be developed and applied. Such a view encourages a kind of ethical or epistemic expertise, that we previously termed ethocracy and epistocracy, and that is basically not very far from the spirit of technocracy. It is assumed in such a view that the task of the normative and evaluative assessment of projects should be given to a restricted community of experts, like, for instance, an ethics committee. Those experts would concentrate on the compliance of the project with the legal / moral criteria, but would not investigate, for instance, the ethical legitimacy of the given criteria. If so, that would require from the experts to examine the conditions for governance that allows these criteria to be taken as relevant and effective by a broader set of actors.
EGAIS demonstrated that classical proceduralism does not adequately address problems raised by an ethics of science and technology in Europe. Procedural approaches to government and governance can lead to outcomes via overly formal means. The perspectives of the governed can be lost in such formal contexts. This can create problems for the legitimacy and effectiveness of governance processes for those who would be governed. The alternative, a substantialist approach, risks imposing preconceived ideals upon a citizenry with negative implications once more for legitimacy and effectiveness. Traditional approaches to ethics contain a ‘blind spot’ vis-à-vis the relationship between norms and contexts. Instead, EGAIS proposed a blending of approaches: procedural (rule-based), reflexive (context-based) and substantive (value-based). This was called "comprehensive proceduralism”.
A comprehensive proceduralism is required in the sense that procedures must be deployed that are based in the perspectival comprehension of contexts by citizens. It implies using a reflexive methodology in research design, its pursuit and in the framing of policy such that the construction of values and norms can be achieved, permitting the legitimate and effective deployment of ethics as a creative force within research at every level of its inception. This is of value not least because it provides a textured and flexible element within research that enables trans-national and interdisciplinary research to work on an open and authentically negotiated ethical basis. This is essential given the aspirations surrounding the European Research Area’s evolution. The opening to a broader community of stakeholders, in taking seriously the benefits of democracy for a more valuable assessment of research projects, does than guarantee that the assessment will be satisfyingly ethical.
To summarise, in applying a comprehensive proceduralist approach to the ethical governance of emerging technologies and through implementing and monitoring the use of ethical tools in the manner outlined within the project, it is EGAIS’ contention that ethical governance can become a dialogical, open, legitimate and effective force in a manner that is consistent, assessable and repeatable. Given that there are different levels of stakeholders involved in this process, inclusivity is an important concept in the overall problematic (researcher, social actor, policy-maker, industry etc.) It is therefore highly important that means are developed through which to inform these differently interested and informed stakeholders of what this nuanced approach to ethical governance is and entails.
Lastly, based on this considerations and comprehensive proceduralism, EGAIS developed policy recommendations that can inform policy makers and stakeholders to implement an ethical governance of emerging technologies. These recommendations for an Ethical Governance of Emerging Technologies can be summarized with the following process:
1. Concentrate on Process not on the Outcome - We should concentrate on creating the conditions for a true dialog between the two fields of "science and technology" from one side and "society" on the other side, and this dialog implies a "capacitation" of the actors (policy makers, scientists, research projects leaders, innovation actors, social actors, etc.).
2. Involve all stakeholders - We can suggest to find the right blending of persons to include in the dialog, civil society or end users of course, but also in the research team itself. As demonstrated in details by the EGAIS project, the typical core team that is willing to start an "emerging technology" venture, has an enormous problem of ethics governance. So the 'research team' of the future, willing to apply "responsible innovation" principle, should include real users, civil society, anthropologists, philosophers, ethicists, sociologists, all possible stakeholders in general (each one carrying their own histories, cultures, etc.).
3. Expose stakeholders to a scenario where the proposed activity (research project, emerging technology development, etc.) is taking a fundamental role in the specified context. This may imply also a foresight exercise.
4. Co-construct the stakeholders network where, in the specified context, the values underlining the actors and the complex network of relationships are likely to emerge. This will facilitate the unavoidable conflicts among the actors and also their "capacitation". The different views, the different values and "narrations" of the stakeholders will enable a reflexion on the scenario (facts / beliefs) and on the underling forces (values / desires).
5. Reflect on the different views via questions like "why this value is important to me? Why should it be important to anyone?". This final reflexion will facilitate the escalation facts-values-norms. This process is likely to bring co-constructed norms and all actors are more willing to submit themselves to these norms. In a research project, if this process starts with the project itself, it can facilitate also the changing of the trajectory of the proposed project /activity in case of problems.
Project Results:
The ethical governance and assessment of EU projects and more generally of research projects raises the issue of the determination, the addressing, and the assessment of ethical issues in a way that there is an effectiveness of ethical reflexivity. Unfortunately projects built on such technical developments do not generally sufficiently integrate responses to ethical issues that arise, nor do they adequately address governance procedures to deal with these issues. There are few guidelines available for addressing these problems within the EU level, with those available raising the issue of integration at the application without any precise development of governance procedures that would assure effective integration of results of ethical enquiry into projects.
The goal of the Ethical GovernAnce of emergIng technologieS (EGAIS) project was to solidly define and integrate ethical governance into EU ICT projects in order for ethical thinking to become a natural part of the development process, and to ensure its effective implementation.
Our research problem derived from our argument that there is a wide gap between the ethical and technical communities in attending to ethical problems in technology development projects and that we believed ethics should go beyond being treated as an ad hoc strategy. We also argued that most of the ethical approaches in the theoretical realm undermined the context under which an ethical norm comes to life and limit themselves to pre-supposed and pre-determined reasoning. The problem of cognitive closure lied in the centre of these limitations. Our concern was that the technical and scientific value systems may obscure the moral reason and deteriorate the other potentially relevant (external) framings driving the construction of the norm. For this reason we needed to understand the conditions of the construction and implementation of the norm in a specific context.
The EGAIS approach than addressed, from the very beginning, the question of the effectiveness of ethical norms, from the conditions of their emergence to their implementation. This effectiveness is rarely, if ever, questioned, because implicitly, all theoretical approaches presuppose that the conditions that determine the effectiveness of the implementation of the norm are supposed to be linked to rules within the mind and therefore are supposed to be a function of mental capacities, which are independent of the external subjects’ context.
We detailed the steps for the process of the production and application of a norm. The first stage was the issue of cognitive framing. Through this concept, we highlighted the necessary contextualisation of every judgement and how it relies on the routines that an interpretive approach will continually adapt to new contexts. The second stage was the problem of reflexivity, with its related issue, the problem of capacitation of the actors. Then there was the requirement that there be an acknowledgement of the cognitive condition for an ethical reflexivity, the determination of ethical issues (related to ideal, normative, and contextual constraints), the search for a resolution, and the determination of the solution. Finally, the last stage of the problem is the acknowledgement of the fact that the solution is a solution.
These consideration were taken into account when creating our questionnaire and interview, based on a specific grid of analysis (WP2, Task 2.1 D2.1). To construct the analytical grid for the questionnaire, we firstly established the background theory we used to choose the parameters for analysis. This was done in order to avoid constructing what amounts to an arbitrary set of analytical guidelines, based on our impressions, opinions, general knowledge, or other ad hoc criteria. Instead, we needed justification for what we chose as our criteria. This was also important because it allowed us to identify the very specific contextual framing under which we conducted this analysis, and left us open to the possibility of reframing this context in order to incorporate other, previously unforeseen, requirements.
The theoretical analysis focused on the current thinking on ethical governance and its limitations. It highlighted the concept of cognitive framings (preconceptions) resulting in ‘contextual blindness’, which implies ignoring the context of application of a norm. In fact, within many projects, the identification of an ethical issue and its means of resolution are abstracted from the ‘real world’ context of its application. We underlined that, to effectively implement a norm, its context of application is of vital importance. As a consequence, the grid of analysis focused on the relation between the norm and the context and, more concretely, it focused on the ways ethical norms are constructed and implemented in technical projects, and under what conditions they emerge and are accepted and implemented. More in detail, the analytical grid explored the following levels of analysis:
o Ethical issue identification and specification: We needed to identify whether the projects at stake had any ethical issues to deal with, and if they did, how they determined what ethical issues to look for.
o Ethical approach: This level is concerned about whether there were any theoretical approaches used for tackling with ethical issues, and what theories, approaches and principles were put in place.
o Reflexivity: At this level we needed to realise the types of reflexivity that existed in the project, since the beginning, throughout the duration or after the project. This parameter is the foremost element for us to explore the type of “ethical” questions project leaders asked, and if those questions are about solely determining an ethical issue or going further by asking a second-order question about how the actors should reflect on the process of verifying ethical issues.
o Governance arrangements: Here we attempted to find out the institutional arrangements (if any) that were operated in the project to deal with ethical issues.
o Implementation: This level of analysis is about the implementation process and tools of ethical governance, and the degree to which they were effective.
From the grid of analysis, the questionnaire was derived aiming at investigating how different governance mechanisms affected the concrete embedding of the consideration of ethical impact issues within development projects. It focused on the following lines of enquiry: Ethical Issue Determination, Ethical Approach, Reflexivity, Governance Arrangements, and Implementation. The questionnaire involved simple responses and allowed for a follow-up questionnaire or interview that went into more detail once the initial responses were analysed for the existence and use of governance arrangements and tools, and the existence of reflexivity within these projects.
Questionnaire and interview were used to collect on the field data particularly from Project Leaders within the Ambient Intelligence field (EU funded projects) (WP2, Task 2.2 D2.2). That of Ambient Intelligence was the starting point field of the EGAIS project, considered as a representative area of ICT research. We proceeded analysing existing them to determine their ethical governance patterns, analysing and interpreting these different patterns, and applying theoretical outcomes to different technological domains in order to establish the deficiencies of current ethical governance processes.
We contacted 73 AmI project leaders by email and received 19 questionnaires as a response including an additional 4 projects with publicly available material. 7 out of 19 projects were sent / interviewed with an additional follow-up questionnaire.
Our data collection strategy included a combination of primary and secondary data. As the primary source, we used a grid-based questionnaire sent to the AmI project leaders and interviewed with a smaller number of respondents. Secondary information sources were the publicly available documentation of projects, e.g. deliverables, project brochures, web sites, and so on.
The main conclusions that were revealed from this initial on the field research are given below:
• Although there are ethical and social aspects to be in place in relation to the technologies developed, a majority of the projects did not consider these issues as part of their research design or during the project.
• The dominant cognitive framing apparent in the projects seemed to be stemming from technology oriented and human computer interaction paradigms.
• It was evident from the results that most of the ethical issues addressed (or supposed to be addressed) were in the realm of data security and privacy issues.
• The most preferred reflexivity tool from EGAIS’ perspective was technology assessment and it was found the most effective of all among the others.
• Projects involve ethical committees and advisory boards had to proceed with formal rules but this clearly showed an increase in recognition of these issues.
• The justification of a norm is not necessarily questioned, and its application may not be apparent.
• The rationale for the application of the norm within its context (narrow and broad) is not often questioned.
• The context itself is not questioned and is usually pre-constructed.
• The consensus approach does not necessitate a legitimacy of an ethical norm.
• The epistemological insufficiency of every theory results from the presupposition that the activity of reason is a given, or identifiable, activity. However, the reflexive character of reason should be taken into account to understand the relationship between the context and the reason.
• No attention is paid to the arrangements required to ensure that the operations regarding the application of rules are taken into account.
The considerations described above were discussed face-to-face with 18 among project leaders of AmI projects and relevant researchers during the EGAIS first internal workshop which took place on April 12th 2010 in Tarragona (WP2, Task 2.3 D2.3). The aims were to stimulate the opening of their cognitive framings, to see if and how our theoretical perspective was linked to practice and to raise the ethical issue we based our research objectives. The workshop also involved a brief ethical training (for reducing the gap between the “ethical” and the “technical” understanding, and opening up framing), and scenarios for discussion (and for gathering insights from the participants) to realise whether our understanding was working.
The workshop raised significant questions in the participants’ minds about reflexivity and ethical governance of emerging technology development projects. As in the words of one of the project leaders “one cannot find such an opportunity to discuss issues this much intensely”. Among the critical questions raised by the project leaders, the followings were highly interesting: “How can we approach and solve issues? I am still looking for a kind of a solution”. “Would it be possible to give different guidelines to push stakeholders to the ‘other side’, to open their minds?”. “It is difficult to grasp how EGAIS uses the concept of ‘context’. It might be challenging to problematise technologies which are already working. Instead of asking what if?, or what should be?, we are to consider what we already know. The context [should be] what we already know. Emerging technologies come from existing technologies and it is more difficult to work on what we know... as we have to choose”.
The EGAIS first Internal Workshop not only provided the data for the next stages of the research, but also had an impact on the participants through their exposure to EGAIS and its theoretical position, and particularly their engagement with the Scenario sessions. From the participants’ perspective the Workshop:
? raised important issues about tackling ethics in relation to technology development;
? provided a useful platform for discussion among project leaders and researchers with different cognitive framings, allowing them to “capacitate” their understanding to ethical governance through a reflexive thinking, and
? provided experiential learning through their interactions that could influence their approach in the future to the questions of ethical dimensions of a technology and methods of governance and development.
The empirical work conducted up to that moment allowed the EGAIS researchers to collected feedback and data on ethical behaviours directly from project leaders, according to their perception. The main insights highlighted what follows:
o Ethical issues: from the projects analysed the majority lack an efficient understanding of the issues related to the ethical and social implications of the technologies they have been developing;
o Experts’ role: there is a tendency towards leaving ethics and ethical issues in the experts' hands;
o Approach to ethics: the common response to ethics is relying on experts, who base their evaluation on deontological codes. Additionally, the common procedure adopted by experts consists in relying on national or European legal frames;
o Impacts on society: the majority of the analysed projects do not foresee or at least do not articulate or make explicit the possible impacts and threats of developed technologies to the society;
o Impacts of experts: in projects where there is a strong input from ethical experts (such as an Ethical Advisory Committee or an Ethical Review) and a real involvement of such expertise into the development of the projects, the coordinators and project leaders are more aware of ethical aspects. It appears that having ethical experts as part of the project’s process generates positive consequences in the way that ethical experts are able to drive important changes of the project’s trajectory.
From the empirical analysis conducted we realised that the norms are not questioned, the context is not taken into consideration when constructing them and their application is not questioned as well. The reason for this approach is that there is a tendency to take a norm as such and that it is natural to think that everybody will implement it.
However, the approach implemented so far would have been a reductive one because we also needed to take into account the construction and legitimization of the norms and the issue of their relationship to the context. As a consequence, we performed a deep study of the available materials of the projects using the lens of the researchers (WP2, Task 2.4 D2.4). This approach allowed us to extract and analyze patterns from the data gathered from the projects and to identify the real limits of the governance approaches and their reasons. What we wanted to investigate was:
• the context of the construction of the norm;
• the way how the norm was defined;
• the application of the norm itself.
We called this further analysis process for pattern recognition. This was based on the following 6 steps of analysis which drove the understanding of the way the actors of research projects view the relation to the norms:
1. Identification of the governance tools used within the project: this step involved identifying or determining the formalised or implicit governance tools used within each project.
2. Identification of the relationship of the context to the norm: this step looked at to what extent and how the ethical norm had come to life within a specific context (if any) and in what form the norms were implemented within a context.
3. Identification of the use of each tool: at this step the focus was on the motive behind the use of a specific tool in a given project, and understanding the incentives of the ways the tools were used.
4. Justification of the use of each tool: this step included the interpretation and justification of the way the tool identified in Step 1 has been adopted and used, using the justification of the project itself.
5. Identification of the presuppositions: this step included the explanation of whether each use of each tool identified in Step 1 suffered from the mentalist, schematising, and intentionalist presuppositions. We linked the tools, their usage and the reasons behind their usage to the three presuppositions we argued in the theoretical background of our project in order to highlight the cognitive closure apparent in the project leaders’ thinking and its boundaries.
6. Construction of the governance compass: this step implied the qualification of each project according to the four models of governance (standard model, consultation model, revised standard model, co-construction model) and the construction of the solution through the mapping of each project into the EGAIS compass. The EGAIS compass refers to the visual map based on two dimensions highlighting the possibility to have within a project a:
? Rational approach/choices (efficiency): measures the level of delegation of ethical governance to experts and the degree of pressure towards efficiency.
? Participatory approach/choices (procedural approach): measures the participation of stakeholders to the process of norms’ definition and their legitimization
In taking the previous steps and categorizing the analysis in this way we moved from a set of results that reported on individual projects and their approaches to ethics and ethical governance to focus on the bigger picture of governance.
The empirical work conducted and the conclusions derived highlighted that the majority of projects lack of an understanding of the issues related to the ethical and social implications of emerging technologies and that they prefer to rely on deontological codes of legal frames, delegating to "experts". The potential risks and impacts on the society are largely hidden or underestimated. The clustering of the projects into the EGAIS compass gave us important results summarised below.
The dominant pattern included those projects where the use of the governance tool(s) has the following characteristics:
? the relationship to the norm is decontextualized;
? the tool(s) is used mainly to delegate the decision making process on ethical issues to the experts;
? the usage of such a tool(s) is justified to ensuring the approval of ethical Committees (EU / National);
? the tool(s) embeds all the presuppositions (Mentalist, Schematising, Intentionalist).
As a result, the majority of analyzed projects (more than 60%) was falling into the standard model area.
This approach is quite common in the scientific/technical communities, as confirmed also from the empirical analysis (both EGAIS first Workshop and interviews and feedback from project leaders). The reason is that scientific/technical communities lack of a solid background on social and ethical issues identification and, as a consequence, they strongly rely on given norms without questioning them and/or the way they are built. That's why it is so important for these projects to delegate all the management of social/ethical issues as much as possible. This (deontological) approach is based on a trustful approach towards the experts. On the opposite, the public is generally considered "irrational", as it lacks the experts' knowledge. Once the norms' compliance is checked the only important thing to do with regard to social and ethical issues is convince the public of the benefits of the new technology.
A second emerging pattern included those projects which used governance tool(s) had the following characteristics:
? a decontextualized, and sometimes restricted contextualized, relationship to the norm;
? the tool(s) is mainly used to delegate the decision making process on ethical issues to the experts;
? the tool(s)’s justification is that of reducing frictions with the public and media;
? the tool(s) embeds all the presuppositions (Mentalist, Schematising, Intentionalist).
Those characteristics are at the basis of the second cluster of projects (more than 20%) falling into the revised standard model area. This approach, based on a technocratic vision, considers the influence of the public as an obstacle and aims at reducing the ethical assessment to a plain risk assessment.
The third emerging pattern included those projects which used governance tool(s) had the following characteristics:
? a restricted contextualized relationship to the norm;
? the tool(s) is mainly used to collect feedback from the public;
? the tool(s)’s justification is that of getting support from main stakeholders;
? the tool(s) embeds all the presuppositions (Mentalist, Schematising, Intentionalist).
Those characteristics are at the basis of the third cluster of projects (about 10%) falling into the consultation model area. This approach usually aims at involving the public by consultation procedures. However, its feedback is asked only on risk management issues, not on the definition of risk itself. The assumption of the consultation model is that a risk which is voluntarily taken is more likely to be accepted. Of course this also creates possible misunderstanding between "risk acceptance" and "risk acceptability". Besides these considerations, the main difference between this model and the previous ones is that, in any case, within the consultation model there is a two way communication process among experts and the public and the communication focuses on the management of risk. The limitations of a top-down technocratic approach, which characterizes the previous models, are then mitigated.
Lastly, we were not able to identify any project whose pattern of ethical governance belongs to the so called co-construction model. Indeed there were no examples of:
? questioning the expertise within projects;
? considering science, technology and artifacts not alienated from society (the society conditions technology, and technology changes the society: this is a co-shaping approach);
? providing a really open definition of risk, with the involvement of all main stakeholders;
? a deliberative way of discussion and procedures leading towards a true reflexivity.
Further on, we introduced the notion of and defined the paradigms of ethical governance corresponding to the ethical behaviours analysed and patterns (WP3, Task 3.1 D3.1). To define what a paradigm is, we referred to Kuhn’s (1962) concept of “scientific paradigms”, in which the concept is considered first as a typical matrix gathering a coherent set of theories and practices (e.g. values, beliefs, facts, knowledge); then as a tool for structuring the reasoning, interpretation and the behavior of people; and finally as a cultural and social frame of reference one can identify as different from another competing paradigm.
The existent paradigms on ethical governance of technology were than analysed within the literature and for each of them, the theory behind, the rationale and critiques were analysed and discussed. In detail, the analysis of the literature on existent paradigms on ethical governance of technology highlighted the existence of the following:
1. The technocratic-instrumental paradigm can be defined as the combination of a technical expertise provided by a restricted community and of an instrumental power of technical skills in the determination of social rules and choices
2. The ethocratic-normative paradigm can be defined as the combination of an ethical expertise provided by a restricted community and of a normative power of moral will in the determination of social rules and choices
3. The epistocratic-cognitive paradigm can be defined as the combination of an epistemic expertise provided by a restricted community and of a cognitive power of scientific knowledge in the determination of social rules and choices
4. The democratic-inclusive paradigm can be defined as the combination of a democratic participation allowed to a community of citizens and of an inclusive power of political opening to society in the determination of social rules and choices
As a further step, we looked into the overarching paradigms inside the data we collected in the AmI field, constructing a link between the patterns and the trends that characterise different governance approaches as developed in literature. In detail, this research step aimed at understanding whether there was a relationship between the models of governance identified in real projects and the paradigms of governance as described by the literature.
The justification of this bottom-up approach (paradigm recognition step) was to see if the patterns of ethical governance tools and the presuppositions behind the ethical governance tools could also be classified according to some common characteristics found in the data. These characteristics, we believed, revealed strong links to the history of government and governance theories that allowed us to confirm our understanding that there is well-built tradition of specific cognitive framings that lead specific ethical governance tools to be used under specific conditions, namely the context.
Linking theoretically the governance models and patterns to the paradigms revealed in the literature, we draw the following conclusions:
• The standard model has some relationship with the technocratic, ethocratic and epistocratic paradigms.
• The revised standard model has some relationship with the technocratic and epistocratic paradigms.
• The consultation model has some relationship with ethocratic, epistocratic (to a limited degree) and democratic paradigms.
• The co-construction model has a key relationship to the democratic paradigm.
These findings showed that some paradigms crossed the same context or models.
The next step was to link governance models to paradigms through data. In detail, case-based validation was required to see the link between the tools, contexts, presuppositions and the governance models used in projects which were leading to the paradigm definitions. In order to do this, each governance tool used in the projects and identified and analysed in Task 2.4 was investigated to see what sort of characteristics were embedded in the governance models leading up to the paradigms. This analysis demonstrated that:
? Pattern 1: The majority of projects and the tools they use show the characteristics of the standard model of governance, with a tendency toward decontextualisation of the relationship between the norms and context, with three presuppositions in the background, and experts being at the centre. This pattern fits well with the ethocratic paradigm in which the convergence of morality, political virtue and political action is at the heart of dealing with ethical issues.
? Pattern 2: The second type of governance tools can be categorized under the revised-standard model of ethical governance, majority of which have a relationship to the norm where the context is restricted. The stakeholders are involved, but since they do not participate in defining the context themselves, tools involve stakeholders are justified for the purpose of utilizing them as information source for decision-making. This pattern could be directly related to the technocratic-instrumental paradigm, with some elements from the ethocratic paradigm.
? Pattern 3: A small number of projects can be grouped under the consultation model, because the level and nature of risk perception differs between the public and the experts. Tools are mainly used for consultation purposes. This pattern is related to the epistocratic-cognitive paradigm, specifically to a moderate form of epistemic democracy tradition that can be seen in Mill’s argument, who accepted the discussion between the experts and the people, but also introduced a form of elitism on the ground that the weight of experts must be more important, as they are the ones who know. Therefore, in this pattern, and in relation to this paradigm, one consults the public, but also restricts the scope of consultation in making a science-based cognitive interpretation of the public acceptance of risks involved.
? Pattern 4: There are no projects with governance tools that fall into the co-construction model. This pattern is linked to the democratic paradigm as the idea is a deliberative discussion and participation, and procedures that lead to the open-definition of risk by all the stakeholders and the ethical reflexivity where an exploratory approach takes place in the construction of the context by all the stakeholders.
This analytical process we performed demonstrated that norms are constructed under the influence of specific framings related to the context. In fact, the limitations and the problems in the ethical governance models appearing in use of governance tools may be thought to be related to the individual choices and cognitive framings of project leaders and partners, including their backgrounds and value judgements. But by coming up with paradigms, we have linked them also to theory. Therefore these problems were actually grounded in theory. We are able to state that basis of the practice is affected by theory.
Further on, we examined the portability of the tools and patterns previously elaborated to some other fields than AmI technologies (WP3, Task 3.2 and Task 3.3 D3.2 and D3.3). We firstly introduced the methodological problems of portability in articulating within our approach the ethics and the governance of scientific and technical projects. We then scrutinized and provided justification for some projects and processes selected for the portability analysis.
The fields that were chosen for this methodological test were the following:
• Ethics and governance in other technological fields
• Ethics and governance in the EU
• Ethics and governance in innovation and design
• Ethics and governance in foresight
The technological fields that were chosen for this study were the field of hazardous activities carrying about risks and uncertainties, the field of nuclear technology, and especially that of the Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), and the field of nanotechnology. All these fields use technological settings and framings that are different from the AmI technologies ones, which is one the pre-requisite for a comparative analysis of portability. They are then far enough from the domain of AmI technology to enable expanding and testing the validity of the EGAIS analytical grid as regards the ethical governance of technology. Moreover, they represent some major and massive sets of technical development and implement projects that are of great relevance today.
It was also necessary to give an overview and an account of the existing ethical governance settings in the EU in order to put the procedures of assessment of technology in perspective. One of the main stakes of the EGAIS project indeed was to assess the procedures of ethical assessment of technical projects in Europe and, as far as possible, to propose some ways for improvement of them.
Finally, we considered two important aspects of technical development and implementation, namely, innovation and design on the one hand, and time and foresight in the other hand. It seemed important to us to examine the theory and practice of innovation and design in order to better understand the extent to which ethics can be integrated within a technological project, and what can be the value for ethics of the ‘Value-Sensitive Design’ (VSD) for instance. We also needed to examine the time dimension in taking into account the new time-space scale of contemporary technologies’ effects that exceed the more traditional time-space scale of ethics, raising new issues of inter-generation responsibility or justice (technologies having long term impacts).
This research and methodological work allowed us to draw conclusions about the portability of our methodology and indicate directions for further research. For each of the fields selected for the portability analysis, a deep investigation was performed which allowed us to relate the selected fields to the analytic grid (and through this to the concepts of tools, characterisation of patterns and interpretation of patterns, models, paradigms etc.). The following conclusions were drawn for each field/project under analysis:
• The overarching feature that seemed salient in TRUSTNET was the deployment of the co-construction model. This was absent from the AmI field, as was a concerted trend toward governance in the democratic-inclusive field. The limits evidenced within it, however, appear familiar given the evidence gleaned from EGAIS so far. Reflexivity remained an obstacle, and this resulted in a restricted scope for the ethical analysis implicated in the approach. In certain respects, in fact, the mechanisms within TRUSTNET reflect complex governance arrangements.
• Co-construction appears in COWAM having not made an appearance in AmI. However, given the construction of norms occurs in a less than complete appreciation of context, the payoff from this innovation is not necessarily fully reaped. At the extreme, when COWAM talks of intergenerational relationships it necessarily leaves behind knowable context and so becomes decontextualised regarding norms at those points. This will have the effect that norms constructed in the decontextualised moment will lack efficiency (and perhaps meaning) for their purported addresses.
• In the field of nano innovative governance approaches, such as that illustrated with reference to DEEPEN, were seen to embody elements again capable of being revealed via the EGAIS analysis. Once more, this field displayed elements of governance not present in the AmI field, but did embody presuppositions, paradigmatic approaches and limits predicted by the analytic approach. Finally, in embodying limits predicted by the analysis despite employing models not seen in AmI, these three fields as embodied in TRUSTNET, COWAM and nano demonstrate the portability of that analytic approach as even in territory not encountered in the initial empirical work on AmI projects (territory where co-construction is at work, for example) there can still be revealed familiar presuppositions, paradigms and limits.
• In the EU framework field we see a parallel of the situation encountered in AmI. As any project in European research under Framework Programme (FP) funding must pass ethical screening and/or review, any project will have these tools applied. Regardless of what is to be researched, these standards and processes will be applied. This means that the limits of the FP approach to ethics as determined here will be present in the background to every piece of research work carried out in the European Research Area. The ultimate limits of the FP ethical approach are therefore the ultimate limits of any FP funded research project. Moreover, it is for this reason of pervasiveness that should any correction be hoped for in implementing ethics in European research it is here at this level that it ought to be applied. This is the basis for determining that ad hoc measures will not adequately address ethics. What is required is a transformation at the level of the ethical approach itself in FP. Once more, the analysis permitted by the EGAIS methodology proves its portability.
• The deviation toward improvement exhibited within innovation, through value sensitive design, is the awareness of the importance of incorporating value into design, as opposed to deploying ad hoc measures in the face of emergent conditions. However, the values it accounts for may not be ethical – indeed part of why the three presuppositions recur within this field is because the capacity to reflect and act upon ethics is presumed to come naturally to researchers, designers and other stakeholders. Moreover, given value is incorporated via consultation, the theme under which it comes is not guaranteed to be ethical acceptability, but more generally social acceptability. This is not a cynical pronouncement, but rather is based upon the role of business (and therefore marketing) in shaping research. This, indeed, is a limiting factor upon the appreciation of context in a full-blooded way (the distinctions between interest, value and ethical value are blurred). This is also stated because by hypothesis in EGAIS, ethics is more difficult than determining social acceptance. Given this, it is natural to expect the easier rather than the more difficult outcome to appear.
• The idea of the future, being unknown, means that context can not be included in a full-blooded sense in a field dedicated to ethics. What is interesting here is that speculation upon the future, itself in principle unconstrained, nonetheless fits the pattern exhibited in AmI. Co-construction fails to be deployed. This could suggest that a sort of ‘intellectual reflex’ of picking among the three approaches of standard, revised-standard and consultation models appears across governance in general. While this point is speculative, it is one grounded in the analysis of the field of foresight as grounded in the analytic grid. Thus, it is not idle speculation, but rather it seems indicative of the reliance upon expertise seen throughout EGAIS’ investigations. It is indicative of this because there is no reason in principle why co-construction would be excluded from speculation on the future – what could an expert know better than ‘the man on the street’ about a field that is in principle engaged with the unknown (the unknowable)? The exclusion of co-construction here could suggest that faith in experts extends even to the in principle unknowable.
In validating our analytic approach through this broad effort we were able to identify the object of enquiry (ethical governance) in a principled way, and so were permitted to identify:
1) its absence in particular cases
2) the problems that indicate the absence of ethical governance and so
3) the basis for what is required to institute ethical governance
Also, what it was gained from the exportability exercise was directions for improvements to existing problems in terms of practices and in principle (in that across various methods we saw similar problems emerge).
These results related to portability were discussed during the EGAIS second Internal Workshop, which was held in Brussels on March 29-30th 2011 (WP3, Task 3.2 D3.2). The Workshop focused on the investigation of contextual proceduralism and allowed the EGAIS researchers to export the research hypotheses to other fields of technological development other than the AmI one, investigated within Workpackage 2. It represented an important circumstance where experts of contextual proceduralism and ethics had the opportunity to share their views and contribute to the development of the issues under investigation. It also allowed the EGAIS Consortium to broad the collection of perspectives on the issue under investigation and move on towards the suggestions of possible solutions for overcoming the existent limitation of ethics.
11 key stakeholders from different EU countries and with a different background attended the Workshop, including Dr. Peteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit, ICT for Health - Directorate General Information Society and Media, European Commission and Dr. Mihail Kritikos, Ethics Review - DG Research, European Commission. Their attendance allowed us to collect interesting insights coming directly from the EU perspective.
Apart from existent approaches and solutions discussed during the Workshop and already in some ways implemented at the national and EU level, a number of suggestions and contributions were proposed by the speakers to develop the approach towards ethics and improve the existent situation at different levels, on the regulatory and law level, on social and society level and on normative one.
Interesting highlights collected during the two days Workshop included the following:
• From the EU perspective, the main input received confirms the need for a desirable change that would help to achieve a better link across ethics, science, law and methodology within the EU ethical review process and more, in general, at the ethics governance level. Currently at the EU level ethics has been taken more seriously than in the past and there are many initiatives, proposals for improving it and projects dealing with governance of ethics financed by the Commission. This is strong evidence of the EU commitment to the issue.
• Institutionalising ethics at the EU level is of course highly desirable and recommended and would imply the setting-up of governance mechanisms which are above all effective. However, a number of barriers or existing limits have to be faced and managed first. Overall, for example, the inclusion within the ethical review processes of key people who also have a strong background and who are experts in the field of the project.
• It is important to underline that tools for governing ethics are often available at the EU level, but it is relevant also to ask how much they address the ordinary citizen, that is, how right it is to use them within a top-down approach? An improved ethics would not imply imposing but collectively constructing. Related to this, there is an example for the meeting of minds within the neuroscience field: communities of people were directly involved and were devoting their time exclusively out of interest. This approach implies a full engagement of citizens, although the public consultation approach is very expensive. What just said imposes a good balance of pros and cons when structuring an ethical governance mechanism at the EU level.
• A deliberative-participatory approach of governance is suggested but has to be implemented in the proper way. In fact, it is important to enhance the actors learning capacities as well as to involve new user groups. However, this would not just be a matter of having people around the table, but being reflexive and commonly creating a process.
• Ethical governance procedures have to be context-sensitive and the related debate should take into account the emotional context. What has been suggested is linked to what is called the “ludic” approach, which considers constraints and sociological legitimacy and moves beyond Habermas’ conversational rationality.
• Processes of governance can be different and linked to the concept of communicative power, which is the power to change through communication the convictions persons have concerning the authority of their recognition of good reasons, to change the value of reasons and to change the ways of acting that are appropriate in the frame of the relevant community of communication.
• In social policies, it is important to promote interactive decision-making and implement capacity-enhancing principles, that are of help in problem-structuring and in raising awareness to specific features of the social context and personal situations.
• A new evolved role of governance is proposed: governance should not imply the enforcement of existing standards and procedures by approving but should develop an agreement among a set of commoners "beyond the law”, including ethical considerations.
• Governance cannot be isolated from risk, risk assessment, and social trust. Risk is a pervasive issue, interacting with confidence and social trust. Risk exposure situations cannot be managed with reference to normality and risk governance provides justification for very hazardous technologies and activities on the base of rational and normative argumentation.
The second internal Workshop helped the project to reach the opinion of experts of ethical governance with a different background and with a strong expertise in different fields of science and technical development. This was an important aspect, as it allow us to go beyond the field of Ambient Intelligence which EGAIS focused on at the beginning of the project, to face the issue of portability of the ethical problem and compare the key findings across different fields.
Further on, we applied the analytic process developed throughout EGAIS to approaches aimed at supplying ethical governance. In doing this, we determined the limits of those current approaches and moreover, we identified the areas that are problematic for ethical governance in principle (WP4, Task 4.1 D4.1). We applied this analysis to the foundations of direct deliberative polyarchy, the open method of coordination and to theoretical attempts to answer to their shortcomings. Among these theoretical treatments were those that put ‘learning’ centre-stage in trying to account for how governance can cope with plurality in values and how this impacts on the conception of norms in governance.
As we were seeking to provide remedies, we determined what other remedial approaches have been offered. To that end, we examined a general background to governance in the EU looking at and assessing those governance approaches. We identified a number of limits of the current approaches: DE, DDP (Direct Deliberative Polyarchy) and OMC (Open Method of Coordination) do not have an in-built ethical structure. The structures alone are not sufficient to realise ethics. Moreover, the structures do not necessarily permit reflexivity. When stakeholders are included or asked to monitor, this inclusion and monitoring itself can be based in narrow views. There is still the possibility with these promising approaches that unquestioned framings, sectoral interests and power can dominate. This means that the position of the actor, their context and their conception of their own possibilities, is not automatically considered when one of these governance measures is adopted.
The result is that governance measures based in such a process can be themselves ungrounded in any particularly ethically valid procedure. For example, if dialogue is deployed in OMC as a means of gaining positive feedback for a measure already planned, the ethical impact of the measure never come into play. Instead, a crypto-technocratic process is deployed to win support for an ad hoc endeavour. In essence, the potential remains for the dominant techno-instrumental, standard model governance, with all three presuppositions, to win the day despite superficial complexity.
The Louvain School seize upon this lack of construction of the actor’s position and criticise well the shortcomings of this failing. Their terceisation approach, however, has it that to understand the actor’s position, the actor must consider herself in the abstract, as a series of descriptive statements. The metaphor of the mirror emphasised this. However, this is not what it is like to be a social actor. The Louvain School process is one of decentring, or translating, phenomenological self-identification into an argumentative mode.
This is of course the limit of a deliberative-collaborative approach as well. The problem is the suppressed assumption that argumentative rationality, the rationality of deductive reasoning, is the highest, or best, or most important form of rationality. This assumption carries with it the unjustified conviction that, as in deductive reasoning, valid arguments are themselves reasons to act. In the case of persons, however, one can easily accept that an argument is valid, but refuse to adopt it as a reason to act. We could agree that too much wine is bad for us, therefore we shouldn’t open another bottle, but then go straight to the cellar nonetheless. Formally there seems to be a performative contradiction (we affirm the reason not to do what we go on to do). However, rather than seeing contradiction this as an outcome, it should instead be realised that the sort of case we here mention is indicative of the fact that reasons other than deductive reasons motivate. In fact, persons are motivated by complex webs of self-understandings based in beliefs, desires, history, culture and so on. This means a prominent feature of personal motivation is narrative.
To summarise, the lessons we learnt from the existing theoretical treatments of the problems in ethical governance are that:
• The situation of the social actor is central, yet difficult to account for
O Their position must be reconstructed faithfully in order to ground the moment of interpretation necessary for the comprehension and possible acceptance of a norm (the content of a governance injunction)
• The interaction of norms and values in personal motivation is complex
O The question is of the interaction between value, norm and context – this characterises the significance of the norm
O Only a significant norm can be understood
O Only a norm understood can be the telos of a legitimate governance
• Gaining an efficient means of ethical governance is essentially linked to the account made of value and reason
O The limit case for efficiency, the extreme, is bringing someone via governance to a point where they can bind their will to a norm in opposition to their values
O This needs to be achieved by engaging with their will and their own conception of their possibilities.
Given the foregoing arguments and critiques of the current offerings regarding ethical governance measures and their limits, we defined a clear picture of the problem space that needed to be taken in hand: what the problems are, and why they are problems. This gave us a basis to move toward addressing them in a way that was grounded in theory and that could affect practice in a positive way.
Further on, the portability of the solutions was explored through the EGAIS third Internal Workshop, held in FUNDP, Namur on January 12th – 13th 2012 (WP4, Task 4.2 D4.2). The Workshop centered on presenting comprehensive proceduralism and the policy positions suggested by EGAIS’ research to a varied audience and allowed the EGAIS researchers to enter into dialogue with and see the perspectives of various stakeholders.
In detail, it aimed at presenting EGAIS hypotheses regarding the ethical governance of emerging technologies, gathering perspectives from different stakeholders and fields that are engaged in ethical governance approaches, and facilitating wide-ranging and penetrating discussion aimed at coming to a deeper understanding of the issues and possibilities in ethical governance from the very widest philosophical and policy perspectives, to the narrowest, practical sense of ethical governance within individual research projects. This was also an opportunity to develop research connections and connections with the policy-making scene.
The third EGAIS Internal Workshop brought together experts from different fields to bring their experiences of different methods of governance to the discussion. The programme was set to explore:
(1) Context, experiment and coordination: evolutions of the contextual; experimental and the open-coordination methods.
(2) Principles of the comprehensive method: Ways of human change : from individuals to organizations; Re-constructive ethics and reflexive religion; Principles of comprehensive proceduralism (EGAIS).
(3) Applications of comprehensive proceduralism: From discussion to narration and experiment; Organizing the cooperation of actors : the case of the Copenhague Summit on Climate Change; Adaptations of procedures to contexts, local/global scaling and tuning - reflections on the China-Europe Forum (2005-2010); Neo-institutionalism.
(4) Thinking through stakeholders’ experiences of governance; NGO’s in multi-stakeholders’ governance (Consider project contacts); Industries in multi-stakeholders’ governance; Administrations in multi-stakeholders’ governance; IGF.
The way of ‘contextual proceduralism’ suggests one basic question: how far can a procedure be adjusted to the context of individuals or groups so that it can produce (a) a shift in their cognitive and normative framing (b) a new relationship to the norms and to the stake of normativity (c) an integration of values in the process of elaboration of norms?
The option of comprehensive proceduralism grounds upon several hypotheses concerning the context:
• A process of multi-stakeholders governance cannot be implemented without making use of any procedure, though a procedure is not neutral and carries about a range of substantial commitments and some implicit or explicit functions and objectives.
• A procedure cannot be reduced to a unique rational form (eg : argumentation) and can be conceived of according to a variety of possible forms, including some ‘non-rational’ aspects (eg : narration).
• A context if viewed as a kind of inescapable a priori for judgment can be de-stabilized and possibly re-structured through interaction with other actors, but cannot be entirely reflected by the actors themselves.
• A procedure can be adjusted to the context of individuals or communities without requiring a complete reflection of the context by the actors and by implementing at most a re-construction of it.
• A shift in the cognitive and normative framing to occur depends upon a plurality of factors that, to be effective and relevant, are themselves related to the specific context of an individual or a community.
• The disjunction of norms and values questions the relevance and effectiveness of any procedure of inclusion that is supposed to reduce the disjunction of norms and contexts occurring in any procedure of discussion.
The improvement of the rational procedure of argumentation that is usually applied in the assessment procedures can be envisaged through transformation of the ethical method. In this view, the method of ethics is mainly a question of re-construction (re-constructive ethics) that relies not only on the argumentation procedure, but encompasses the three moments of narration, interpretation and argumentation. Re-construction in ethics suggests that argumentation makes sense as related to the backgrounds and paradigms and more generally to the schemes of relevance that makes arguments convincing and effective, thought without reducing to a mere consensus or compliance approach.
However, one can think of enlarging the scope of the ethical method in considering other aspects that are missing in Ferry’s re-constructive ethics:
(1) Translation of the backgrounds to be regarded as semantic and pragmatic structures as well as systematic conceptual and experiential patterns.
(2) Transformation of existing paradigms that can function as a common ground to be possibly co-constructed by the actors.
(3) Experiment of different life forms or life worlds that is also an experiential pre-requisite in some cases for the conceptual understanding and the personal appropriation of another value-system.
The general idea of this new perspective on proceduralism, that EGAIS proposes to term ‘comprehensive proceduralism’, is that there is no ‘one best way’ in the procedure of ethical assessment of technological projects. On the contrary, the investigation led by the community of assessors consists in exploring the special combination of procedures that is best adapted to the contexts of individuals or groups in order to guarantee the significance of norms as being relevant to their value-systems. The governance of techno-ethics based on the idea of ‘comprehensive proceduralism’ pleas for a combination of approaches that are both procedural (rule-based), reflexive (context-based) and substantive (value-based). A series of concrete improvement can be achieved as a development of this view, like in the composition of the consortium (other experts, cross discipline committee, etc.), the education to ethics (ethical reasoning, ethical validating, etc.).
As a further and last step of the EGAIS research, we aimed to provide guidelines that could inform policymakers and researchers in planning, implementing and assessing the ethical governance of research both within research projects and in a broader policy context (WP4, Task 4.3 D4.3 and EGAIS policy brief). To that end, the EGAIS team closely traced the project’s methodology, appraised and recounted the results and deduced from them practicable results that embody the fruits of the EGAIS project.
EGAIS found that it is possible and desirable to utilise a reflexive methodology in research design, its pursuit and in the framing of policy such that the construction of values and norms can be achieved, permitting the legitimate and effective deployment of ethics as a creative force within research at every level of its inception. These advances are made on the back of a novel approach to treating governance that we termed ‘comprehensive proceduralism.’ This is of value not least because it provides a textured and flexible element within research that enables trans-national and interdisciplinary research to work on an open and authentically negotiated ethical basis. This is essential given the aspirations surrounding the European Research Area’s evolution.
The EGAIS team draw together the findings of the EGAIS project in order, ultimately, to make concrete recommendations related to policy advice. These recommendations are intended to inform policy regarding specifically the field of ethical governance in research in emerging technologies. The recommendations for an Ethical Governance of Emerging Technologies can be identified with the following process:
1. Concentrate on Process not on the Outcome
2. Involve all stakeholders
3. Expose stakeholders to a scenario
4. Co-construct the stakeholders network
5. Reflect on the different views
Below, a list of EGAIS policy recommendation is provided (details and preceding demonstrations can be found in D4.3 and EGAIS Policy Brief).
Policy’s role:
• For the citizen / user: training for capacitation of citizens and capacity development of citizens
• Identifying tools for defining who the stakeholder is; ensuring the tools are used by technology developers and relevant regulatory bodies to define stakeholders on a case by case basis
• Designing tools that would help define the level of stakeholder involvement in S&T debate and ethical norm determination
• Designing policy tools for the definition of capacity in relation to certain technologies
• Co-construction of Context: political institutional framework for defining a different set of skills for involving wide range of stakeholders in ethical norm definition through a reflexive governance process. In this respect, a different level of expertise (we do not mean technological versus ethical expertise or epistemic community approach here) for moderation and facilitation of value-based, norm-based and context based layers of interactions in order to reveal the best possible future horizons and ethical norms that would only be related to a specific technology under a specific context defined by the actor. Organisations such as EC Ethics Review Committee, STOA or EPTA should include such expertise needed for the process of interpretation and re-construction of reality through an epistemological standpoint of the actors who are part of the process.
For the technology developer:
• Funding call protocols and scheme guidance directing the technology developer into thinking about ethical issues and context construction
• Ethics being part of the innovation/technology development cycle and increasing the competitive advantage of the innovator; hence ethics not only becomes part of the political but also the economical aspects of the technology development process
• Self-regulatory / self-reflexive/ self-controlled monitoring mechanisms integrated within technology development processes by project coordinators in order to continuously scrutinize the transformations in the innovation landscape, users’ needs, user feedback, the ethicality of technology and co-evolving possible futures defined by stakeholders
• Beyond-borders co-operations in technology development: ensuring ethical norm definition by contextually different stakeholders in different territories and bringing those framings beyond the borders of the European Research Area into a common approach level for dealing with ethical issues
For the political framework’s institutional development:
• For the technology (not be trapped in losing competitive advantage in meeting the target to become the most competitive knowledge economy of the globe)
Transforming conceptions of existing ethical tools:
• Ethical guidelines and Check list: A starting point, not an end in themselves; Opening cognitive closure; capacitating proposal-writers.
• National Ethics Committees and Fora
• Experts and Expert panels: establishing a frame-destabilising discourse between expert and non-expert; Public engagement and mutual learning; Emphasise the nature of expertise and what it brings to dialogue
• Ethics Review Procedure and Ethics Review Report Procedure: Promote dialogical encounters based on leading questions; implement open-ended training; Opening of framing, implementing reflexivity; Capacitation of reviewers and project-proposers
• Follow up and audit: Opening of framing, implementing reflexivity
Incorporate ethics into research and development culture
• Distinguish between law and ethics and see that it is understood that following legal requirements is not always sufficient to address ethical issues
• Engage in discussion of what constitutes ethical issues in a ‘horizontal’ fashion – i.e. where power asymmetry is not presumed to be in favour of expertise, and so authority is not ceded on a vertical axis, as in command and control structures.
Facilitate ethical reflexivity in research projects and practice
• Ethical issues are context-dependent, and context is itself a dynamic notion that requires the specific attention of individuals with local knowledge and understanding. It is not enough merely to include a breadth of stakeholders, but it must be achieved that the right procedures are observed regarding ethical issue determination.
• Project practices must simultaneously consider the identification of ethical issues and their resolutions as the description of an ethical issue involves the comprehension of its basis, hence the addressing of its concerns
• Openness about the description of the project, its likely scope of application and possibilities for altering contexts is required
• Wide stakeholder engagement in the identification and resolution of ethical questions should be sought, not just as an end in itself, but on the epistemological principle that the more information we can garner, the richer discussion will be.
Provide a regulatory framework supportive of authentic ethical impact assessment
• Through emphasising the role of ‘follow up’ and the steering function of ethics in projects after initial assessment, policy-makers can raise awareness of the importance of ethics in ongoing research
• To provide appropriate training and support for researchers to be able to go about identifying and addressing ethical issues throughout the life of a project – i.e. exposing them to ethical reflexivity as a means of dealing with the idea of ethical issues.
Establish a repository for existing ethical review documentation
• To collect and communicate the conceptual, methodological, procedural and substantive aspects of ethical review processes in order to provide a community-owned publicly accessible repository and dissemination tool of actual research ethics procedures.
• To give examples of approaches and governance structures that allow addressing ethical issues and to disseminate past and current research ethics
• To facilitate the Ethical Impact Assessment.
• To provide an early warning mechanism for issues that may require legislation.
Establish a forum for stakeholder involvement
• To allow and encourage civil society and its representations, industry, NGOs and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and express their views.
• To exchange experience and to develop ethical reflexivity in the discussion and reach consensus concerning good practice in the area of ethics research in emerging technologies.
• To build a bridge between civil society and policy makers.
• Dialogue is predicated on a basis broader than argumentation.
Lastly, in applying a comprehensive proceduralist approach to the ethical governance of emerging technologies and through implementing and monitoring the use of ethical tools in the manner just outlined, it was EGAIS’ contention that ethical governance can become a dialogical, open, legitimate and effective force in a manner that is consistent, assessable and repeatable. Given that there are different levels of stakeholders involved in this process, inclusivity is an important concept in the overall problematic (researcher, social actor, policy-maker, industry etc.). It is therefore highly important that means are developed through which to inform these differently interested and informed stakeholders of what this nuanced approach to ethical governance is and entails. EGAIS therefore provided a synthesis of the overall aims, methods, stakes and results in order to try to address the need for the expression of these results across broad audiences.
Potential Impact:
The strong push for technology development often obscures the need for any deep ethical consideration before a technical project is funded, developed and deployed. What EGAIS wanted to improve was the integration of ethical considerations within research projects’ development, contributing to the relations between science, technology and society through the notion of governance.
Starting from the investigation of ethical governance procedures in EU research projects, EGAIS developed a framework for improved governance mechanisms able to identify and address potential ethical issues arising from new and emerging technologies in the early stages of development, moreover supporting the integration of ethical considerations of governance into the research and technology development culture of EU research.
Throughout the theoretical and empirical work performed, EGAIS found that it is possible and desirable to utilise a reflexive methodology in research design, its pursuit and in the framing of policy such that the construction of values and norms can be achieved, permitting the legitimate and effective deployment of ethics as a creative force within research at every level of its inception. These advances were made on the back of a novel approach to treating governance that EGAIS termed ‘comprehensive proceduralism.’ This is of value not least because it provides a textured and flexible element within research that enables trans-national and interdisciplinary research to work on an open and authentically negotiated ethical basis. This is essential given the aspirations surrounding the European Research Area’s evolution.
As a further step, EGAIS translated the theoretical findings in clear recommendations that can inform policy makers and researchers in planning, implementing and assessing the ethical governance of research both within research projects and in a broader policy context. In detail, the project addressed the needs of different categories of stakeholders:
- policy makers, who finance research projects and are looking for governance mechanisms and
guidance for ethical reviews;
- developers (industry and research field), who need to identify ethical issues or address them only through risk management strategies;
- users (civil society), who look for guarantees and are asking for 'ethical assessment'.
From a practical perspective, through the direct and active involvement of stakeholders within the research path of the project, it was clear that the EGAIS research problem was placed in a strong position, and that it was timely and important to raise the problem of ethical issues vis-à-vis technology development. Within EGAIS, the research team brought together experts with different disciplinary background and cognitive framings, engaging with technology developers who have coordinated EU-funded technology projects, having fruitful debates and interactive learning activities with many people, such as other philosophers, scholars from natural sciences, researchers addressing bioethics, nanotechnology, nuclear waste, innovation process, privacy design, data management, politics of information security, and social constructivist approaches to technology.
In detail, the EGAIS workshops and final conference, which represented important milestones throughout the research and relevant data collection moment:
• Allowed the EGAIS team to gather the insights of stakeholders directly involved in the management of the ethical issues, reaching the opinion of experts of ethical governance who had a different background and who had a strong expertise in different fields of science and technical development.
• Raised important issues about tackling ethics in relation to technology development.
• Provided experiential learning through their interactions and a useful platform for discussion among stakeholders with different cognitive framings, allowing them to “capacitate” their understanding to ethical governance through a reflexive thinking.
• Raised the need for discussing about a desirable change in the status quo that would help to achieve a better link across ethics, science, law and methodology at the ethics governance level.
• Confirmed that across different fields and expertise the EGAIS project is seen as a project which focuses on the real needs of the stakeholders and which could significantly contribute to the redesign of a new relationship across science, technology and the society. The confirmed expectations of course increased the responsibility of the EGAIS Consortium towards the society.
• Represented real opportunities for cross-fertilization across views, perspectives and expertise of stakeholders directly and indirectly involved or affected by the ethical issues generated by the emerging technologies.
From a dissemination perspective, the EGAIS team implemented a number of forms of communication which included:
• leaflets (e.g. leaflet of an EGAIS workshop)
• news releases
• newsletters
• news item (e.g. in an academic journal)
• message (e.g. plain text message in a discussion forum)
• journal and academic articles
• conference papers
• poster presentations
• website
• workshop reports and final conference report
• EGAIS Policy Brief
• book chapters
• EGAIS book (guidelines for embedding ethical governance issues in technical
development projects and for assessing technical projects)
Driven by the EGAIS research problem and main objectives, the dissemination activities ranged from academic circles to professional networks, as further illustrated.
1. Academic
Participation to workshops and academic conferences has been one of the most influential methods of sharing the EGAIS’ rationale, trajectory and work-in-progress research. The ambition to opening up cognitive closures and overriding the constraints (whether technical, political or cultural) of any cognitive framing has been reflected in the team’s approach to presenting EGAIS to cross-disciplinary audiences. Examples include: ETHICOMP, an international computer ethics conference being organised since 1995; and the ICT that Makes the Difference Conference (2010) funded by the European Commission, which brought together IT professionals, researchers, journalists, private sector representatives and scientists. The ETHICOMP conference presentations in 2010 and 2011 were given in front of a cross-disciplinary audience of academics, researchers, and interested people with backgrounds in e.g. philosophy, law, information technology and systems, engineering, robotics, applied ethics.
In terms of discipline-specific events, Consortium members have been involved in specialised seminar series within their own institutions or other higher education institutions. Examples that can be included are: the University of East London, Innovation Studies seminar series; the international conference on governance approaches in Université de Louvain; the Interpreting Democratic Governance, Science in Society conference in Leicester University.
2. Professional bodies and cross-sectoral dissemination
The project team’s memberships and links to professional bodies and such organisations’ cross-sectoral involvement with ethics and new technologies have
provided opportunities to disseminate the project’s results to members of those organisations who are actively engaged in improving professional standards.
With four members of the EGAIS consortium working as members on committees and working groups affiliated to professional bodies such as the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), the project has been able to utilise these connections to disseminate the project results. IFIP is well known to the International ICT community, and its Technical Committee 9 (ICT and Society) has a diverse membership, including representatives from national computing societies around the world. IFIP as an organisation provides a forum for professional bodies to operate in an international context and its working groups are representative of the sectors that work towards the developments in ICT. Members of IFIP (i.e. organisations paying membership fees) are national computer societies from around the world.
In the EGAIS Consortium there were members in the following IFIP committees and working groups: Technical Committee 9 (TC9) and Working Group
(WG) 9.2 Social Accountability and Computing; IFIP Special Interest Group 9.2.2 Framework for Ethics; IFIP W.G. 9.4 Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries. In addition, partners in EGAIS are affiliated to national professional societies and members of relevant groups: British Computer Society, The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) Ethics Group and Chair ICT Ethics Specialist Group; AICA (Associazione Italiana per l'Informatica ed il Calcolo Automatico).
These links beyond academic circles have been crucial in sharing work-in-progress with the multi-national and multi-sectoral members of these groups. The team for example worked closely with others as members of the programme committee for the IFIP Summer School on Privacy and Data Management for Life, organised a workshop on the theme of ethical and social issues in technical projects, given other presentations both formally (workshops) and informally (committees) during 2010 and 2011.
These engagement activities have created fruitful discussions and provided the EGAIS team with valuable feedback. The EGAIS approach to opening up framings and reducing the gap between technical and ethical experts; and our standpoint about how to achieve this through a reflexive learning practice and ethical governance process have proved to raise critical issues in dealing with ethics and technology. The EGAIS presentations given at these meetings have served to stimulate discussion and debate, helped to formulate our recommendations, and raised awareness beyond academia of the issues and challenges of integrating ethics in professional practice through professional bodies.
3. Policy-makers/funders
The project team was involved with providing briefing and training sessions for the European Commission DG Research and Innovation project officers and ethics review experts; and have had interaction with different stakeholders representing the EU Ethics Review process.
Apart from these, EGAIS was represented in a number of policy/government run workshops, such as the Franco-British Workshop on Responsible Innovation organised by the French Embassy in London following up the first event that had originally been organised by the British scientific attaché in Paris, and the UK Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) funded Academic-Policy Workshop about Research Policy in the 21st Century.
4. Private sector
The EGAIS team collaborated with the Eurexploit Innovation Exchange (EIE), to produce an EGAIS magazine for circulation to European innovators and private sector representatives EIE had direct links to. Through empirical data collection stage (i.e. Deliverable 2.2) the team contacted a number of project coordinators (the majority coming from the private sector) of EU funded technology projects; and collated information and feedback. The team also followed up with some of them and invited them to the internal workshops and EGAIS final event (see Deliverable 5.4); and have been sending them our newsletters and findings.
5. Other networks
The EGAIS team has been in direct collaboration with other EU-funded projects within the same realm; such as ETICA and have been in contact with current FP7 projects, e.g. PROSPECT FP7 Science in Society project, FP7 FET project Guardian Angels, FP7 Support Action Project Golden Workers, Cigref foundation – foundation Sophia antipolis: Project Identification and governance of emerging ethical issues in information systems (idegov); FP7 CONSIDER Project, Civil Society Organisations in Designing Research Governance EU FP7 research project running from 02/2012 until 01/2015
(FUNDP); and the French project “Territoires du futur: vers un nouveau contrat social ? » la Saline royale d’Arc et Senans”.
Although the project is now over, the EGAIS team is still collaborating on a number of dissemination activities foreseen for 2012-2013 (see D5.3). Among these, the EGAIS book is the main ongoing task (planned book title: Dynamics of Technology and Democratic Governance: Norms, Procedures and Context). Consortium members are also preparing a number of research articles for submission to international journals, they plan to attending conferences for representing and disseminating EGAIS project’s results via presentations, networking and collaborations in other projects.
The consortium as a whole and as individual members will continue their involvement with the professional bodies, in particular IFIP Working Group 9.2 on social accountability, and IFIP Special Interest Group 9.2.2 on framework for ethics. The research undertaken in the EGAIS project, and the outcomes (in terms of recommendations for ethics governance in technical development projects) is highly relevant to the IFIP community, covering as it does different interest areas of technology development, and bearing in mind its individual members and their influence on professional societies (and professionalism) at an international level.
A workshop for professionals on methods for integrating ethics into ICT projects is planned by one of the partner for the BCS ICT Ethics Specialist Group during 2012 (as a direct result of the EGAIS project) and the results made available on the BCS Ethics ICT Specialist Group website. The workshop format and materials will also be made available to members of that group, who represent the diversity of specialisms in ICT and who come across the globe (Asia, Africa, Australia, Middle East, United States, Europe). In addition the ideas and recommendations from the EGAIS project will be published in the group’s Newsletter (sent to 180+ members in Asia, Africa, Australia, Middle East, United States, Europe).
A workshop for civil society organisations is also planned in the context of the CONSIDER project regarding governance norms and contexts in an event to mark the Cypriot presidency of the EU. Also, one of the partners is active in the construction of the ESST network (European Studies of Society, Science, and Technology) Erasmus Mundus application regarding new governance approaches (introducing EGAIS approaches and problematic). It was also selected by the DG Information Society as experts to contribute a series of consultations within the context of the Digital Futures Project and is actively engaged in reflexion with the ethical review sector regarding the improvement of the ethical assessment review system (trying to introduce EGAIS results).
List of Websites:
Public website address:
http://www.egais-project.eu
Main contacts:
Federico Rajola - federico.rajola@unicatt.it
Alessia Santuccio - alessia.santuccio@unicatt.it