May 31, 2018

HBP´s Ethics Director to lead Europe-wide computer ethics project

Ethics and human rights in the age of AI and big data.

On 2-3 May 2018, representatives of 11 different organisations (from academia, industry, civil society, standards bodies, and ethics committees) from six European countries met in Brussels to launch the EU-funded SHERPA project which will examine how smart information systems (SIS), (i.e., the combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics) impact ethics and human rights.

In dialogue with stakeholders, the project will develop novel ways to understand and address ethical and human rights challenges to find desirable and sustainable solutions that can benefit both innovators and society.

The project, which has received €2.8m of funding from the EU, will be co-ordinated by the Human Brain Project's Ethics Director Bernd Stahl, who is also the Director at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) in Great Britain.

“The Human Brain Project brings together international expertise in neuroscience and computer science. Our work is likely to contribute to the next generation of artificial intelligence. I am therefore delighted to be leading the SHERPA project that focuses on the ethical and human rights implications of smart information systems which bring together AI and big data analytics”, Prof. Stahl said. “SHERPA will benefit from working with the HBP experts and I hope that it can feed into the discussion of ethics of AI as the technologies develop further.”

SHERPA partners have identified a range of ethical and legal issues that will be addressed, such as equality, privacy, data protection, public security, duty of care to vulnerable members of society, transparency, fairness, justice, proportionality.

Prof. Stahl believes that while smart information systems can be of great benefit society, this project will be important in ensuring that their negative impact is minimised. He said: “Artificial intelligence and big data analytics bring a variety of benefits to society, but at the same time have the potential to disrupt society, ethical values and human rights, and life as we know it. “But it is also critical that research and innovation are acceptable, desirable and sustainable, in line with the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe, 2014.”

“One can't be a leader in AI or smart information systems and simultaneously override privacy concerns and human rights. How innovators should undertake research responsibly is the pressing topic to which SHERPA hopes to contribute.”

The SHERPA project - Shaping the ethical dimensions of smart information systems - a European perspective - has received grant agreement No 786641 under the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme.



Professor Bernd Stahl

Human Brain Project

Ethics Director

Tel.: +44 (0) 116 2078252




Peter Zekert

Human Brain Project

Public Relations Officer

Tel.: +49 (0) 2461 61-85175/-9486


See also:

HBP research area Ethics and Society


SHERPA project