Digital ethics: an unavoidable challenge

Our world is becoming increasingly digital. As a result, and considering the climate, economic and societal challenges, we need guidelines for ethical behaviour in our digital environment. This research project aims to develop a digital sustainability standard and to introduce it into business practice as well as into public discourse in society, as well as into practice.

Digital services have a very high potential to help us meet our challenges of today, but they must neither exceed the ecological limits of the planet nor infringe unpon the basic conditions of social justice. The energy resources needed for digital services can increase air pollution and also contribute to climate change. Digitization should therefore be limited by planetary boundaries. According to our vision, it is possible to define criteria for ecological boundaries for all kinds of digital services. However, digital services can also undermine basic conditions of justice, or risk increasing social inequality. Here to, general ethical standards can be defined. Taken together, ecological boundaries and basic conditions of justice define the framing of our standard for fair and sustainable Digitalization.

This research project consists of three steps. In a first step, the aim is to develop an overall concept of a sustainable digitalization standards by employing concepts and standards widely in the field of ethics and to investigate how they can be linked to specific algorithms. In a second phase, the concept will be institutionalized for use and evaluation with partners from industry and administration. Finally, the goal is to ensure the implementation of these standards, both by creating a recognized standard for sustainable digitalization and by promoting exchanges between the political, economic and academic worlds.