Ensuring that IcARUS complies with high ethical and legal standards
The interest in ethics, in other words, critical reflection on how to differentiate what is right from wrong, what is proper from improper, or what is fair from unfair, to mention just a few of its main objectives, has accompanied humanity throughout its history. This has contributed to defining what traditionally has been called ethos, in other words the way of understanding life in society, the behaviour of the people who make it up or the laws that govern us.
A management plan for the project's ethical aspects
The concept of ethics has been under study for years. In the Horizon 2020 programme all research and innovation activities must comply with ethical principles and relevant legislation at national, European and international level. Since 2014, ethics has become a cross-cutting/multidisciplinary and essential aspect within this programme, reaching its highest point from 2018 onwards, when the new regulations on privacy (General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR) in the European Union came into effect.
There are two main areas of reflection in the field of ethics. The first includes the more traditional or cross-disciplinary ethical issues, such as the participation of children, patients or vulnerable groups, the use of human embryonic stem cells, privacy and data protection issues or research on animals and non-human primates, among others.
The other focus area refers to the ethical problems arising from advanced technologies whose deep social impact we are not yet able to estimate precisely, as is the case with Artificial Intelligence, Big Data or Blockchain.
In projects such as IcARUS, in which research includes not only the more traditional academic aspects, but also the development of new tools and technologies as well as the participation of different European Union countries, it is essential to have a management plan or the project’s different ethical aspects, which must also be in harmony with the different national legal frameworks.
Detecting new ethical challenges and evaluating their social acceptability
In this sense, and looking into the activities that Plus Ethics will carry out to ensure the ethical approach of this project, it is important to keep in mind that the IcARUS partners will face complex legal ecosystems where values are constantly evolving, and therefore that their success depends on knowing how to make decisions and what to choose to adapt to the conditions of their environment.
To overcome these challenges, Plus Ethics will develop a document formalising the project’s values and as well as the researchers’ commitments as regards their behaviour. The aim is to achieve the most appropriate behaviours, notably concerning interpersonal relationships, and results by the implementation of adapted codes of good practices and a Privacy-by-Design model.
Furthermore, since IcARUS’ area of intervention is urban security, it is essential it includes the detection of new ethical challenges and the evaluation of their social acceptability.
With the aim of obtaining scientific evidence to allow us to detect new specific moral needs and the acceptability and social impact of the tools and methods developed by IcARUS, Plus Ethics will develop an empirical ethical study for the evaluation and identification of the different kinds of elements associated with new relevant ethical dimensions, as well as the social acceptability of the implementation of IcARUS.
In this regard, a survey will be designed to evaluate the main socio-economic, moral and legal factors underlying both the project’s design and its impact on society that reveal new aspects and challenges to be taken into consideration. The results will help us know how we should reorient the design of IcARUS in order to adjust it to the new ethical needs and increase
its social acceptability.
In summary, Plus Ethics is committed to developing ethics for real life, so the ultimate objective is to conduct a comprehensive Ethical, Legal and Societal Impact Assessment, which will ensure that the IcARUS outcomes do not infringe on the fundamental rights of subjects in relation to ethics and privacy.
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