Working Group Ethics

The working group deals with key ethical issues and application problems of Big Data analysis.

Key issues affect not only the individual but also the generic and social self-concept as well as the conditions of the ethical discourse (determinability of reality, identity of the acting subject and choice). The aim is to investigate how self-concept and discourse conditions can be affected by the use of Big Data methods. In particular, it must be clarified whether central legacy values such as dignity, autonomy of the individual and subsidiarity are questioned.

Application questions primarily concern the field of privacy and the problem of replacing investigation of causes by data correlation, which involves the claim to be able to make predictions about the future without research into causes. The effects of misinterpretation in the assessment of data can be particularly serious if this is due to automated processes. Accordingly, it is necessary to perform problem analysis in a variety of areas (medicine, economy, internal security, criminology, social planning, etc.). Key issues are:

  • What claims are being made about Big Data analysis? Who performs it and for what purposes?
  • Which data are articulated and which are not? To what extent can these analyses be automated?
  • Are automation processes and “unmanageable” data masses related to the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” problem of a loss of supervision and control?
  • What are the fields of activity in which working with probabilities is associated with risk due to data correlation?

The aims of the working group are: (1) to identify ethical problems, (2) to determine research desiderata, and (3) to develop strategies and normative recommendations.

Members of the working group:

Dr. Regine Buschauer (media scientist, Zurich)
Dr. Sandro Gaycken (philisopher, ESMT Berlin)
Dr. Bruno Gransche (philosopher, Fraunhofer ISI Karlsruhe)
PD Dr. Jessica Heesen (philosopher, IZEW Tübingen)
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hesse (computer scientist, Marburg University)
Prof. Dr. Christoph Hubig (philosopher, TU Darmstadt)
Dr. Andreas Kaminski (philosopher, HLRZ Stuttgart)
Prof. Dr. Arne Manzeschke (theologian, LMU Munich)
Prof. Dr. Alexander Filipović (philosopher, IHS Munich)
Dr. Michael Nerurkar (ITAS Karlsruhe)
Christian Wadephul M.A. (ITAS Karlsruhe)