Conference paper Open Access

Discussing Ethical Impacts in Research and Innovation: The Ethics Canvas

Reijers, Wessel; Koidl, Kevin; Lewis, Dave; Pandit, Harshvardhan J.; Gordijn, Bert

Technologies are increasingly intertwined with people’s daily lives. Consequently, there is an increasing need to consider the ethical impacts that research and innovation (R&I) processes, both in commercial and non-commercial contexts, bring about. However, current methods that offer tools for practicing ethics in R&I inadequately allow for non-ethicists such as engineers and computer scientists to practise ethics in a way that fits the character of their work. As a response, we propose a tool for identifying ethical impacts of R&I that is inspired by a method for the generation of business models, the Business Model Canvas. This tool, the Ethics Canvas, enables researchers to engage with the ethical impacts of their R&I activities in a collaborative manner by discussing different building blocks that together constitute a comprehensive ethical interpretation of a technology. To assess the perceived usefulness of the Ethics Canvas, a classroom experiment was conducted, followed-up by a questionnaire. The results suggest that the Ethics Canvas (1) is perceived as useful for identifying relevant stakeholders and potential ethical impacts and (2) potentially triggers reconsiderations of technology designs or business models.

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