What are the ethical and human rights implications of
Smart Information Systems?

Looking towards the future of technology, SHERPA is a project that will investigate, analyse and synthesise our understanding of the ways in which Smart Information Systems impact ethics and human rights issues.

Join the SHERPA Network

SHERPA aims to address the ethical dimensions of Smart Information Systems (artificial intelligence and big data). The SHERPA project will guide the ongoing debate and develop actionable recommendations to make sure that SIS is for the public good.

SIS may yield lots of benefits, yet it raises many ethical and legal issues and it is important to achieve a balance between the advantages of SIS and the ethical issues involved.

In this field of competing rights and interests this is only possible with the expertise of a large variety of stakeholders who will be consulted to gather their views on existing threats, risks and possible solutions to achieve a better balance between the potential benefits of the new technologies and their impact on ethics and human rights.

Do you want to get involved and bring in your expertise? Then join the SHERPA network and fill in the provided form. You can participate in an online survey and interviews.

What are Smart Information Systems?

Smart Information Systems, or SIS, are the combination of artificial intelligence and big data.

Why Now?

Smart Information Systems have reached a level of development that wil have a significant impact on individuals and society. Some examples of these technologies include Amazon’s Alexa home assistant, Google’s search engine, AI algorithms used in Facebook and other social media. Such SIS collect and process big data and use AI for analysis and decision-making, and have the most visible potential to raise ethical issues and affect human rights.

Now is the time to harness the benefits of SIS and simultaneously address their downsides. The SHERPA project is uniquely placed to guide the ongoing debate, focus it and develop actionable recommendations and advocate them to ensure that SIS promote the public good.

Our Approach

SHERPA aims to clarify and exemplify the ethical and human rights issues of SIS through a series of methods:

Developing 10 case studies and 5 future-looking scenarios.
Spelling out ethical and social tensions and their role in the current human rights framework.
Working closely with 45 stakeholders throughout the project to conduct both a large-scale online survey of 1,000 European Citizens and a Delphi study with 60 experts.
10 short videos to demonstrate the steps of the project.
Disseminate and Communicate these findings with stakeholders and the public


A series of scenario studies will form the backbone of this project. Some of the central themes will be:

Transportation in the future.
Healthcare applications.
Policing and the use of AI.
Warfare applications.
Identity theft and mimicking.

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