Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

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AI Research and Ethics

A joint workshop of the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW) and the Weltethos Institute helped to increase the ethical competence of the participating scientists from the Cyber Valley environment. On June 9 and July 1, 2021, short inputs in basic ethics issues were given and individual cases from Cyber Valley practice were discussed. The main goal expressed by the participants was to enable the researcher:s to write more competent and authentic ethics statements for their AI funding proposals. The course was conducted in collaboration between IZEW and WEIT and from the participating institutions Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Hemel and Dr. Bernd Villhauer (WEIT) as well as Dr. Uta Müller and Dr. Simon Meisch (IZEW) were the implementers. The ethical questions of the participating researchers correspond to questions that are also asked in society, e.g. with regard to non-discrimination, dual use, prevention of misuse and issues around data ownership. When writing the statements, a predominantly technical perspective often still prevails, as if there were the once-and-for-all binding solution for ethical issues. The differentiated exchange about ethical and social problems is part of CyberValley’s unique position and promotes its international appeal. The workshop was described by all participants as useful and problem-oriented and should serve as a blueprint for further events.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Hemel

Ulrich Hemel, who last year published the book “Kritik der digitalen Vernunft – Warum Humanität der Maßstab sein muss” (“Critique of Digital Reason – Why Humanity Must Be the Touchstone”), is also involved in exchanges with computer scientists and AI researchers outside the Cyber Valley environment. He lectures on similar issues at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Technische Universität München. According to the director of the Weltethos Institute, the digital transformation is an epochal change. It is associated with great risks but also enormous potentials for the further development of human history. Echoing the famous formula of Professor Hans Küng, founder of the Global Ethic Project, who died in April this year, Hemel says: “No future without technological progress. But no technological progress for humans without dialogue between AI and ethics.”