International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Current Projects

Current projects at the Department of Society, Culture and Technological Change in alphabetical order. Completed projects are listed in the archive section.

ELISA (2016–2019)

Ethical Implications of IT-Export to sub-Saharan Africa

Against the background of the global “digital divide”, the project explores the practice of digitalisation in sub-Saharan Africa, its developmental impact, and its ethical implications. It draws on theories of global justice and on concepts of the Philosophy of Technology and places particular emphasis on the values of privacy and access to information.

Keywords: information and communication technologies (ICT), sub-Saharan Africa, global justice, Philosophy of Technology, development, ICT4D

Project website

FLORIDA (2016–2018)

Flexible, semi-automatic Analysis System for the Evaluation of Mass Video Data

The project will develop a system for the visual and auditory analysis of heterogeneous mass image and video data, such as those provided by witnesses in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. The system will use methods such as geo-spatial crime scene reconstruction, visual analytics, generic object search and audio analysis. The ethical investigations at the IZEW deal with the ethically acceptable collection, processing and analysis of mass image and video data.

Keywords: surveillance, state of exception, technology assessment, counterterrorism

Project website

Forum Privacy (2013–2020)

Forum Privacy and Self-Determination in a Digital World

In modern societies with widespread usage of digital media, private information can be disclosed on many occasions. The co-development of technical possibilities like data mining and genetic diagnostics, and political regulation (e.g. data retention, biometric databases, body scanners) on the one hand, and the individual use of social networking sites, online shopping, or location based services on the other hand establish a tight mesh of information. This enables the ever more encompassing and detailed tracking of individuals’ lives. The “Forum Privacy and Autonomy in the Digital World” considers these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together scholars from Law, Sociology, Computer Science, Psychology, Economics and Ethics.

Keywords: privacy, self-determination, digital transition, media

Project website

HEIMDALL (2017–2020)

Multi-Hazard Cooperative Management Tool for Data Exchange, Response Planning and Scenario Building

The project aims at improving the preparedness of societies to cope with complex crisis situations by means of providing integrated tools to support efficient response planning and the building of realistic multidisciplinary scenarios. The project will design and develop a system for improving response planning strategies and scenario building and facilitating organisational coordination among many actors (firefighting units, medical emergency services, police departments, civil protection units, command and control centres). The Ethics Centre will provide a human factors analysis, a societal acceptance and ethical acceptability analysis and an ethical issues analysis in cooperation with the end users involved in the project.

Keywords: security ethics, human machine interaction, crisis situation, civil protection, first responders

Project website

INTEGRAM (2016–2019)

Integrated research: A critical analysis and practical dissemination for the research area “Human-technology interaction”

INTEGRAM deals with the integration of ethical, social, legal and economic aspects into technology development. The first aim is to critically analyse the mode of knowledge production demanded by funding institutions and donors. The idea is to integrate ethical, social, legal and economic aspects into mainstream technology development projects instead of studying them separately. Secondly, a handbook will be developed, which aims at supporting project teams implementing an integrated approach.

Keywords: integrated research, ELSA, interdisciplinarity, technology development, human-machine interaction

Project website

KoBeLU (2016–2019)

A context-aware learning environment for education and vocational training

The project aims at making use of augmented reality technologies (such as gamification and affective computing), in order to increase the motivation of students in learning contexts. The relevant technologies will be customised for a wide array of learning tasks, from higher education, to professional training of people with cognitive disabilities.

Keywords: augmented reality, gamification, artificial emotions, nudging, autonomy

Project website

KOPHIS (2016–2019)

Strengthening the context of people in need of care and/or help

The basic demands of people in need of care during a crisis have hardly been thoroughly examined so far. KOPHIS aims at strengthening the resilience of people in need of care in private households, in all relevant phases of a crisis. Sustainable networks between the people in need of care, civil society and the authorities as well as the aid organisations need to be established. This is necessary in order to provide a functioning cooperation at all stages of the so-called disaster-management cycle.

Keywords: disaster management, care, resilience, Security Ethics, crisis communication

Project website

migsst (2018–2021)

Ethnic segregation and crime

The separation of ethnic groups in some urban neighbourhoods is regarded as a safety-relevant risk factor. The migsst project will review this assumption through a comprehensive and interdisciplinary research approach.

The subproject at the IZEW questions the so-called "parallel societies" and investigates the potentials of modern communication in multi-ethnic cities.


Project website

NIKA (2018–2021)

User-centred interaction design for context-sensitive and acceptable robots

The NIKA project is aimed at the development of generic interaction patterns for social robots in the home of elderly people. These patterns can be used across different robot platforms to support elderly people in an active, self-determined lifestyle in their own home environment. A library of interaction patterns will be designed, implemented and tested, from which the appropriate pattern for the respective situation will be selected according to the user's needs profile, support needs and context.

Keywords: Assistive Robotics, Social Robotics, Human-Machine-Interaction, Robot Ethics, Ethics of Old Age

Project website

PODESTA (2017–2020)

Populism Democracy City

The joint research project PODESTA aims at formulating democratic answers to populism. Populism in this framework is understood as an expression and reinforcement of a crisis of representative democracy. The factors contributing to social division are empirically analysed by taking into account existing conflicts in the context of urban development in Leipzig and Stuttgart. The ethical substudy at the IZEW aims at discussing existing strategies of anti-populism and the complex factors contributing to their success or failure.

Keywords: populism, city, democracy, crisis of democracy, public sociology

Project website

TANGO (2019–2020)

Technological Innovation: Social Science and Ethical Analyses on Governance

The TANGO project combines social science and ethical research to investigate the impact of different approaches to the governance of technological innovation. Based on this, points to consider will be developed for governance mechanisms that promote ethically and socially desirable technology research.


Project website

WeNet (2019-2022)

The Internet of Us

The project WeNet deals with diversity-aware artificial intelligence and tries to improve computer-mediated social interaction by developing new methods and algorithms. The goal is to develop an online platform, which is based on this diversity-aware computer-facilitated mediation of communication. Within the project, the IZEW investigates ethical aspects of privacy and data protection and develops a conceptual framework of diversity to inform the development algorithms.

Keywords: ethics, artificial intelligence, algorithm, human-computer interaction, communication

Project website