Value-driven innovation approaches

On 6 November 2019, SHERPA participated in the 4th Technology Assessment Conference in Bratislava. During the session on value-driven innovation approaches: theory and practice, organised by  Rathenau Institute (the Netherlands), our partner Marlou Bijlsma from NEN shared the findings from the SHERPA smart grids and ethics case study and standardisation efforts in the sector to […]

What is the role of the SHERPA Stakeholder Board?

Every project has its blind spots and limits of knowledge. Therefore it is essential to work together with independent stakeholders who bring in their expertise and contribute to all activities of the project. This is primarily done by the SHERPA stakeholder board which is a permanent body throughout the project. We have gathered 30 experts […]

Trendington – A European Discussion Around the Hottest Trends in Science and Technology

We are delighted to announce that the PREFET project is organising the Trendington event, that will take place in Madrid, Spain, on November 13 and 14, 2019. The PREFET activities will be held back-to-back alongside the “Spanish National Innovation Days”. The Trendington is a biannual event convening researchers and other stakeholders around prioritised long-term technology […]

Privacy-friendly Smart Home System: Introducing Candle

Voice control systems such as Alexa and Siri have been in the news lately, as it turned out that unbeknownst to many, voice recordings were listened to by outside contractors. Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple claimed this practice is necessary to improve the quality of their voice assistants. But to what extent is this […]

SHERPA partners meet in Cyprus to discuss project developments

The 4th SHERPA General Assembly meeting was hosted by UClanCY (University of Central Lancashire-Cyprus), and was held in Larnaca (Cyprus) on the 10th and 11th October 2019. The meeting provided an opportunity for partners to reflect on the current progress of the SHERPA project. This included presentations around the findings of completed deliverables and discussion of key insights. […]

Ethics of AI – The SHERPA project chairs panel in London’s Connected World Summit

Does surveillance and data collection mean an erosion of privacy? What formal regulation and policy is required as smart cities develop? To what extent should private companies lead urban transformation? Is involving the public from an early stage the key to technological innovation? These are but some of the questions to be discussed in the Panel […]

Advocating for Ethical Smart Information Systems

The SHERPA Project, now in its 17th month, has entered the advocacy phase. The European Business Summit (EBS), a Brussels-based event organizer, will lead the work and advocate the SHERPA project deliverables towards the EU and national decision-makers. The SHERPA advocacy objective is to achieve a lasting impact, facilitating effective policy actions and paving the way […]

Exploring regulatory options for SIS – call for feedback

Currently, the SHERPA project is working on identifying and analysing regulatory options for smart information systems . The SHERPA regulatory options analysis team would like to solicit your help to answer the following questions: Has our preliminary research identified all the regulatory options relevant to smart information systems (AI and big data) for further analysis […]

Regulatory options for smart information systems (SIS) – AI and big data analytics

A scoping paper Prepared by Trilateral Research Ltd on behalf of the SHERPA project Contact: Introduction and background There is a lot of existing literature (policy, academic and grey) on regulation of SIS.These publicationssometimes focus more broadly on the regulation of AI and at other times onmore specific aspects (e.g., safeguards for automated decision-making, algorithmic […]

Does AI Make Cities Smart?

Welcome to SHERPA

SHERPA, SIENNA and Panelfit are working towards setting future ethical standards

In an effort to assist policymakers in the struggle to assess the ethical, legal and human rights impacts of IT systems, the PANELFIT, SHERPA and SIENNA projects are collaborating on how to improve ethical, human rights and legal frameworks for information and communication technologies (ICT), big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.  The PANELFIT, SHERPA […]

Ethics of Using Smart City AI and Big Data: The Case of Four Large European Cities

By 2030, the population living in cities will increase by an additional 1.5 billion people, placing a great strain on resources, infrastructure, jobs and healthcare (UN 2018). It has become clear that to combat this change, a number of creative approaches need to be put in place to ensure the sustainable growth of cities – one such approach is the ‘smart city’ (UN 2018). Due to the relative infancy of smart cities, and the diversity of approaches and implementations of smart information systems (Big Data and AI),many of the ethical challenges are still being defined.
One of the reasons behind this challenge is a result of the varying smart information systems (SIS) being used in different urban contexts. This case study aspires to unpack some of these ethical challenges by looking at four different applications of SIS being deployed in large European cities: an AI used to understand citizens’ complaints (Amsterdam), a parking permit chat-bot (Helsinki), a platform for data exchange (Copenhagen), and a project with an open-source algorithm (Hamburg).Upon first glance, these technologies seem very disparate, but they all factor into the equation of what goes into making a smart city, ‘smart’.
Over the course of the interviews, what quickly became clear was the degree to whichsmart cities are in their infancy, meaning that the availability and accuracy of data remains an issue in a large majority of the cases. In terms of the accuracy of recommendations – due to the early stages of smart city implementation, many projects remain wary of expanding the use of SIS, due to potential unforeseen issues and are therefore proceeding cautiously.
Data has been taken on as a potentially helpful tool for citizens and planners alike to regain control and access to information within their respective cities. Consent, transparency and data ownership featured as prominent ethical considerations in all cases, especially the focus on citizens regaining control over their own data. Further, it remained a point of contention to whom the data would belong – with an overall consensus that data should remain the property of the citizen or municipality and not necessarily that of private companies.
Throughout the process, it became clear that collaboration is at the heart of a successful smart city. Many of the projects utilised a collaborative public-private model to facilitate both the business development side and the citizen-engagement sides of the smart city. With differing degrees of success in the individual projects, this remained an important feature that experts believe will continue to develop in tandem with smart city projects. A bottom-up approach is clearly the most effective way to ensure that a smart city works and is used by its citizens.
Overall, this case study offers valuable insights into the development of smart cities in a European context: including the use and implementation of SIS in urban environments, what kinds of ethical issues are evaluated in the literature and how they contrast and diverge from those faced by professionals in practice. It is hoped that this case study will offer practitioners, policymakers, smart city organisations, and private ICT companies interesting observations about a more ethically-responsible approach towards SIS implementation in smart city projects.

Ethical Implications of Predictive Risk Intelligence

This paper presents a case study on the ethical issues that relate to the use of Smart Information Systems (SIS) in predictive risk intelligence. The case study is based on a company that is using SIS to provide predictive risk intelligence in supply chain management (SCM), insurance, finance and sustainability. Thepaper covers an assessment of how the company recognises ethical concerns related to SIS and the ways it deals with them. Data was collected through a document review and two in-depth semi-structured interviews.Results from the case study indicate that the main ethical concerns with the use of SIS in predictive risk intelligence include protection of the data being used in predicting risk, data pri-vacy and consent from those whose data has been collected from data providers such as social media sites. Also, there are issues relating to the transparency and accountability of processes used in predictive intelligence. The interviews hig-hlighted the issue of bias in using the SIS for making predictions for specific tar-get clients. The last ethical issue was related to trust and accuracy of the predic-tions of the SIS. In response to these issues,the company has put in place different mechanisms to ensure responsible innovation through what it calls Responsible Data Science. Under Responsible Data Science, the identified ethical issues are addressed by following a code of ethics, engaging with stakeholders and ethics committees.This paper is important because it provides lessons for the responsible implementation of SIS in industry, particularly for start-ups. The paper acknowl-edges ethical issues with the use of SIS in predictive risk intelligence and suggests that ethics should be a central consideration for companies and individuals devel-oping SIS to create meaningful positive change for society.

The Internet of Things and Ethics

The Internet of Things (IoT) may be defined as a network of networks, where the end devices are not user-handled devices but can be computing devices, mechanical and digital machines. In many busi-nesses, IoT-based software is used increasingly as a means to deliver enhanced customer service and improved business management proce-dures. By using IoT to monitor business operations, through tracking-capable software, businesses are, for instance, able to track products and employees. The issue is further explored through literature review and a case study of a company developing IoT based monitoring soft-ware.
The review focuses on the effects of using IoT as part of Smart Infor-mation Systems, especially systems supported by 5G networks in the near future. The effects on the users of SIS are referred to by the term Quality of Experience (QoE) and the specific effects of 5G networks on QoE are discussed in this background review. Since the user experience is also affected by such actions as employee and asset monitoring with the use of IoT, a brief overview of legal aspects follows the technological details of QoE in an IoT-aware 5G system. The legal/human rights analysis is presented through the literature, and takes into account some suggestions for guidelines and policies on monitoring is offered. A discussion on ethics and perceptions around monitoring and tracking is further presented.
The CRM.COM case focuses thereafter on how the company provides tracking software as a service and as a product for businesses nationally and in several countries worldwide. The case study discusses the ethics of such IoT-powered software, by considering both their design and their usage.
Overall, the area of using IoT-based tracking and monitoring applica-tions to assist and enhance specific business processes is growing and becoming increasingly popular, both in terms of development and use. Being a new research area, however, it lacks sufficient literature that examines the ethical, social, economic and legal implications of the use of this technology. Such studies into the design, development and use of such IoT-based applications present important relevant information that enriches the state-of-the-art literature on the topic both from an academic and a practical perspective.
This report offers an original case study on the use of an IoT related SIS in the software design and development area. Many of the ethical and legal issues discussed in this report have been analysed more gen-erally within academia and assessed in other areas of application, but have rarely been associated with the IoT usage for tracking and moni-toring. Therefore, this report will be highly valuable for the develop-ment and furthering of theory, knowledge and application for design-ing, developing and using such IoT based applications.

Ethical Reflections of Human Brain Research and Smart Information Systems

This case study explores ethical issues that relate to the use of Smart Information Systems (SIS) in human brain research. The case study is based on the Human Brain Project (HBP), which is a European Union funded project. The project uses SIS to build a research infrastructure aimed at the advancement of neuroscience, medicine and computing. The case study was conducted to assess how the HBP recognises and deal with ethical concerns relating to the use of SIS in human brain research. To understand some of the ethical implications of using SIS in human brain research, data was collected through a document review and three semi-structured interviews with participants from the HBP. Results from the case study indicate that the main ethical concerns with the use of SIS in human brain research include privacy and confidentiality, the security of personal data, discrimination that arises from bias and access to the SIS and their outcomes.
Furthermore, there is an issue with the transparency of the processes that are involved in human brain research. In response to these issues, the HBP has put in place differ-ent mechanisms to ensure responsible research and innovation through a dedicated program. The paper provides lessons for the responsible implementation of SIS in re-search, including human brain research and extends some of the mechanisms that could be employed by researchers and developers of SIS for research in addressing such issues.

Customer Relation Management, Smart Information Systems and Ethics

Smart information systems (SIS – Big Data and artificial intelligence) are used in Customer Relations Management (CRM) to help manage large customer databases and improve customer interaction by companies. This case study involves research into the Finnish telecommunications provider Company A regarding their use of SIS in developing CRM. This they use primarily for assessing “churn”, the drop-off rate of customers choosing not to re-subscribe to Company A services, and for improving customer service by monitoring customer activity on Company A’s website. SIS has the potential to improve both of these areas through developing an understanding based on patterns of behaviour.
A literature review of ethical issues facing the use of SIS in CRM reveals that there are a number of such issues. These include autonomy, control and manipula-tion of people, privacy, customer knowledge as to what happens with data pertaining to them, algorithmic bias, responsibility of companies, governments and individuals, trust and informed consent. The interview held at Company A demonstrated that many of these issues are recognised and encountered by practitioners operating in SIS. Informed consent and trust were not discussed in the interview while global approaches to ethics was raised in the interview in a manner not seen in the literature review.
Overall, this case study evaluates how ethical issues found within the SIS litera-ture correlate with those identified, and tackled, in the business practice of CRM.

Que préconisez-vous pour l’avenir de l’Intelligence Artificielle et des Big Data?

Les chercheurs du projet SHERPA invitent le public à commenter les cinq scénarios sur l’avenir de l’intelligence artificielle en 2025 L’intelligence Artificielle détientdès aujourd’hui un impact majeur sur nos vies, notre société et notre économie. Amnesty International a soulevéde nombreuses questions relatives à la protection de la vie privée, à la protection des données, à […]

What Do You Want the Future of AI and Big Data to Look Like

Researchers invite public comment on five artificial intelligence scenarios set in the year 2025 Artificial intelligence is already having a major impact on our lives, society and economy. AI has raised many issues related to privacy, data protection, discrimination, autonomy, power asymmetries, and fairness, among others, but what will AI be doing in six years […]

Call for Papers : Ethics by Design track

Part of the 4TU.Ethics Biannual Conference ‘The Ethics of Disruptive Technologies’ TU/Eindhoven, The Netherlands, November 7th – 8th 2019 Deadline for submission: June 15th, 2019   Notification:  July 5th, 2019 Co-Chairs Prof. Dr. Philip Brey University of Twente, coordinator of the SIENNA project Prof. Dr. Bernd Carsten Stahl, De Montfort University, coordinator of the SHERPA project […]

Smart Grids and Ethics

This case study explores the principal ethical issues that occur in the use of Smart Information Systems (SIS) in smart grids and offers suggestions as to how they might be addressed. Key issues highlighted in the literature are reviewed. The empirical case study describesone of the largest distribution system operators (DSOs) in the Netherlands . The aim of this case study is to identify which ethical issues arise from the use of SIS in smart grids, the current efforts ofthe organisation to address them, and whether practitioners are facing additional issues not addressed in current literature. The literature review highlights mainly ethical issues around health and safety, privacy and informed consent, cyber-risks and energy security, affordability and equity, sustainability. The key topics raised by interviewees revolved around privacy and to some extent cybersecurity. This may be due to the prevalence of the issue within the sector and the company in particular or due to the positions held by interviewees in the organisation. Issues of sectorial dynamics and public trust, codes of conduct and regulation were raised in the interviewswhich are not discussed in the literature. The paper hence highlights the ability of case studies to identify ethical issues not covered (or covered to an inadequate degree) in the academic literature which are facing practitioners in the energy sector.

Insurance, Smart Information Systems and Ethics

This report provides an overview of the current implementation of SIS in the insurance industry, also identifies the positive and negative aspects of using SIS in the insurance industry, including ethical issues which could arise while using SIS in this area. Two companies working in the industry of health insurance are analysed in this report: a German health insurance company (Organisation Y), and a business intelligence centre for healthcare insurers (Organisation X). Further specific ethical issues that arise when using SIS technologies in Organisation Y and Organisation X are critically evaluated. Finally, conclusions are drawn on the case study and areas for improvement are suggested.

Smart Information Systems in Cybersecurity

This report provides an overview of the current implementation of SIS in the field of cybersecurity. It also identifies the positive and negative aspects of using SIS in cybersecurity, including ethical issues which could arise while using SIS in this area. One company working in the industry of telecommunications (Company A) is analysed in this report. Further specific ethical issues that arise when using SIS technologies in Company A are critically evaluated. Finally, conclusions are drawn on the case study and areas for improvement are suggested.

The Sherpa Newsletter

  Welcome to the SHERPA Project’s Third Newsletter! SHERPA is well underway! We have been busy researching and writing case studies and scenarios, and are onto the second phase of the project: ethical guidelines, the workbook and advocacy. Recent Publications: Understanding Ethics and Human Rights in Smart Information Systems by Macnish, Ryan and Stahl in […]

Ethics of Public Use of AI and Big Data

In 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 accounting for 80% of the world’s CO2 emissions (Nigon et al. 2016). 80% of Europe’s population will live in cities by 2020 (Albino, Berardi, and Dangelico 2015).

Agricultural SIS and Ethics: A Case Study

Smart information systems (Big Data and artificial intelligence) are used in the agricultural industry to help the planting, seeding, and harvesting of crops, as well as farm management, plant and livestock illness and disease detection. I looked at how a Digital Division at a large agricultural multinational is using smart information systems (SIS), through their SISproject, to provide farmers with local weather predictions, farm efficiency and sustainability metrics, and early detection systems for weed, pests and disease. SIS being used in agriculture, types of data retrieved from the farm, how this data is analysed, and agribusinesses involved in this burgeoning field. Agricultural SIS has the potential to automate activities that are typically done by agronomists, allowing for cost reductions, quick and effective crop forecasting, and improved decision-making and efficiency for the farmer. Agricultural SIS also offers agribusinesses an additional revenue, better customer-relations, and reduced costs from hiring additional agronomists and advisors. The world’s population will exceed 9 billion by 2050, forcing the agricultural sector to increase its production levels by up to 70%. SIS are being hailed as one possible solution to help plant, seed, harvest, and manage farms better and more effectively. However, the use of agricultural SIS may create a number of ethical concerns. For example, the accuracy of data and recommendations provided by SIS may lead to lost harvests, ill livestock, and loss of earnings. There is also a tension between ensuring an agribusinesses’ intellectual property and the protection of the farmer’s data ownership. The use of SIS is relatively expensive, which may create a digital divide. Agricultural Big Data is also vulnerable to privacy and security threats because it could be used nefariously by corrupt governments, competitors, or even market traders. Sensors, robots and devices may cause harm, distress, and damage to animal welfare and the environment.To assess if these ethical issues mirror those experienced in the field, I interviewed three members of this company working on their SIS project. This project combines data retrieved from the farmer with the company’s agronomic knowledge to manage their farm more effectively. The project was designed to provide farmers with local weather predictions, plant disease in situ detection, and recommendation tools to minimise risk, crop and yield previews, farm efficiency and sustainability metrics, and early detection systems for weed, pests and disease. One of the primary motivations for using SIS technology for the company is the ability to make the farmer’s life easier, more productive, and to save costs. The aim is to improve farm management, not by increasing fertilizer use, but by more intelligent farming decisions and practices.
The ethical issues faced in the project strongly correlated with those in the literature, with the addition of employment. The general public is concerned that SIS will replace human jobs, such as the agronomist, but the team stated that their SIS is intended to complement the human expert, rather than replace them. Accuracy and availability of data proved to be an issue because not all farmers had available data and data retrieved from third-parties may not be accurate. The team ensure that their customers’ privacy is protected by having strong security measures to avoid misuse and hacking. Data ownership belongs to the farmer and they can move to a different farm management system supplier, with that data, if they choose to. The tool is free to use to avoid the issue of a digital divide. The company incorporate a strong sustainability agenda into their SIS, developing it from the European PEF (Product Environmental Footprint) and a Life-cycle assessment (LCA) framework. Overall, my report was able to evaluate how ethical issues found within the SIS literature correlate with those identified, and tackled, in practice.

Stirring the global technological agenda towards social good at the Web Summit

With more than 70,000 attendees over a four-day period, the Web Summit in Lisbon brought together politicians, technologists, and NGOs to think together, exchange views and set priorities. With more than 70 dedicated discussions and panels, AI was one of the hot topics on the summit’s agenda and high on everyone’s priority list. A wide […]

SHERPA Newsletter – September 2018

Welcome to the SHERPA project’s first newsletter SHERPA is a Horizon 2020 project (EU grant number 786641). Looking towards the future of technology, the SHERPA project will investigate, analyse and synthesise our understanding of the ways in which Smart Information Systems impact ethics and human rights issues. “Artificial intelligence and big data analytics bring a […]

Understanding Ethics and Human Rights in Smart Information Systems

In 2016 the Executive Office of the President of the United States published two reports covering possible consequences of the large-scale introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) into the US society and economy (Executive Office of the President, 2016a, 2016b).

SHERPA to present at the ETSI IoT Week in France in October.

We are proud to announce that the SHERPA Project will be presenting at the ETSI IoT Week running from the 23rd to 26th of October. The talk entitled: ‘Standards for the ethical and societal impact of new technologies’ will take place on the Friday the 26th of October at 9:00 in Valbonne near Nice, France. Presented […]

What is the future of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data? SHERPA’s upcoming scenario workshops

Scenarios form a crucial element of  the SHERPA project as they demonstrate future projections and applications of SIS technologies in the next 5 years. In order to carry out this foresight research, scenario workshops will be critical to gaining the expertise necessary. The upcoming scenario workshops are listed as follows: AI in Defence in Brussels, Belgium […]

SHERPA conducts first scenario workshop on “AI that mimics people”

Prepared by Trilateral Research Ltd on behalf of the SHERPA consortium On 3 July 2018, the first SHERPA scenario planning workshop took place at Innovate UK, in Brussels, with 22 representatives from 8 European countries and 17 different organisations (from academia, industry, civil society, standards bodies, and ethics committees), as well as policy officer, Albena […]

When AI, big data, ethics and human rights converge

Prepared by Trilateral Research Ltd on behalf of the SHERPA consortium “Artificial intelligence and big data analytics bring a variety of benefits to society, but at the same time have the potential to disrupt society, ethical values and human rights, and life as we know it”, says Bernd Stahl, Director of the Centre for Computing […]

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