Fontys’ new professorship on ethical aspect of technologies

Photo Credit: Studio040

Pay more attention to the ethical side of technology. That is Fontys’ ambition with the establishment of the Moral Design Strategy professorship.

How can machines and software make sound ethical decisions? This question becomes more and more important as artificial intelligence plays more role in society. For example, when can an algorithm accuse someone of fraud? When should a security camera call in the police if it thinks a fight is going to occur? How should an algorithm of a social media platform deal with disinformation? These are some of the questions targeted by the professorship, led by professor Bart Wernaart.

“It’s about more than just acquiring knowledge about ethical issues,” says Wernaart. “We want to ‘capture’ the morality of the individual and use it for good in the design process of products and services in both private and public sectors. It is then also about translating this into strategy.”

Citizens’ expectations

“On the one hand, we want to keep our feet in the ground and, for example, go into neighbourhoods with mobile moral labs to find out what moral expectations citizens have of a predictive algorithm that is used by the government,” says Wernaart. “Think of preventive policing, whether an algorithm should detect some risk of fraud. On the other hand, we want to participate at a high scientific level, and come up with new models and flight paths based on our practical expertise.”

“A lot is currently happening at the intersection of technology, ethics and society. Think of the increasing role of artificial intelligence. But at the same time, we sometimes overlook the ethical aspects too quickly,” de Wernaart said.

Including morality in design

“We want to gain more insight into this by connecting researchers, entrepreneurs, education and governments and by conducting thorough research. The starting point here is individual morality as input for design, making morality a more emphatic input at the drawing board of new technology. That is really the added value of the professorship”, concludes the new professor.

Source: Studio040

Translator: Shufei

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