Emerging technologies such as climate engineering and AI create new opportunities to tackle the challenges we face, but they also bring potential societal and ethical consequences. In the EU project TechEthos, VA – together with citizens and experts – has been exploring how ethics and societal values can be prioritised in the design, development and deployment of new and emerging technologies. Resources produced by the project, including a virtual exhibition, are now available.
The focus of TechEthos is on ethical issues related to technological innovation and, in particular, new and emerging technologies that are expected to have a major impact on society. The project is led by the Austrian Institute of Technology and involves organisations from twelve countries – ten partners and six linked third parties, including VA (Public & Science).
During the course of the project, VA has been engaging members of the public in game workshops, science cafés and other dialogue activities. The objective has been to gather societal perspectives on the technologies, including people’s expectations and concerns.
The technologies explored by TechEthos:
- Climate Engineering (including carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management).
- AI-powered Digital Technologies (Digital Extended Reality including XR virtual reality; XR augmented reality; avatars and the metaverse; natural language processing and chatbots).
- Neurotechnologies (including deep brain stimulation; optogenetics; functional magnetic resonance imaging with machine learning).
New TechEthos resources
Similar workshops and dialogue activities have been carried out in several European countries. Based on the findings, a number of publications and resources have been produced, which are now available on the TechEthos website. They include:
- Policy briefs with key messages on ethical governance of the above-mentioned technology families. These are the results of the social, ethical, and legal analyses conducted in the TechEthos project.
- Recommendations to help research ethics committees review research related to new and emerging technologies.
- An overview of the key regulatory challenges identified throughout the TechEthos legal analysis of the three technology families: climate engineering, neurotechnologies and digital extended reality (XR).
- Technology factsheets
- Media scan and analysis on insights on the media discourse regarding new technologies.
Interactive digital installation
An interactive digital installation on the ethical dimensions of climate engineering and natural language processing (NLP) has also been developed, technologies that have been in the spotlight since the launch of ChatGPT and other AI tools and large language models.
Coming soon – exhibition in Umeå!
During autumn 2023, VA has also developed a physical exhibition about the opportunities, challenges and ethical issues surrounding Climate Engineering and carbon dioxide removal technologies. The exhibition can be viewed at Curiosum in Umeå from mid-December.
The TechEthos project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no. 101006249.