The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 153–181 | Cite as

FuturICT — The road towards ethical ICT

  • J. van den Hoven
  • D. Helbing
  • D. Pedreschi
  • J. Domingo-Ferrer
  • F. Gianotti
  • M. Christen
Open Access
Regular Article


The pervasive use of information and communication technology (ICT) in modern societies enables countless opportunities for individuals, institutions, businesses and scientists, but also raises difficult ethical and social problems. In particular, ICT helped to make societies more complex and thus harder to understand, which impedes social and political interventions to avoid harm and to increase the common good. To overcome this obstacle, the large-scale EU flagship proposal FuturICT intends to create a platform for accessing global human knowledge as a public good and instruments to increase our understanding of the information society by making use of ICT-based research. In this contribution, we outline the ethical justification for such an endeavor. We argue that the ethical issues raised by FuturICT research projects overlap substantially with many of the known ethical problems emerging from ICT use in general. By referring to the notion of Value Sensitive Design, we show for the example of privacy how this core value of responsible ICT can be protected in pursuing research in the framework of FuturICT. In addition, we discuss further ethical issues and outline the institutional design of FuturICT allowing to address them.

Graphical abstract


Recommender System European Physical Journal Special Topic Moral Reason Personal Data Information Society 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. van den Hoven
    • 1
  • D. Helbing
    • 2
  • D. Pedreschi
    • 3
  • J. Domingo-Ferrer
    • 4
  • F. Gianotti
    • 3
  • M. Christen
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Philosophy SectionDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and SimulationETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Dipartimento di InformaticaUniversita di PisaPisaItalia
  4. 4.Department of Computer Engineering and MathsUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaCatalonia
  5. 5.Institute of Biomedical EthicsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  6. 6.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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