The separation of powers, independent courts and freedom of expression and thought are examples of what we understand by “democracy”. Democracy is also interrelated with the growing use and development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Smart Information Systems (SIS). The future of democracy in the AI era is a controversial topic. SHERPA, recognising the contributions SIS can make to democracy and protection of freedom of thought and expression but also the vulnerabilities that exist in relation to AI, dedicated a chapter on SIS and Democracy in its Human Rights analysis deliverable which provides a short overview of current international legal instruments related to recognition and protection of democratic rights, as well as positive and negative aspects emanating from the impact of AI on democratic foundations of our society.
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.