Wirtschaftsinformatik und Gesellschaft

IEEE P7000 Standard

IEEE 7000 Ethical System Engineering Standard

From 2016 - 2021 the Institute for IS & Society has supported the IEEE P7000 effort; that was the project setting out to develop the world’s first ethical system engineering standard. This standard, released in September 2021, establishes a process model by which engineers and technologists can address ethical considerations throughout the various stages of system initiation, analysis and design.

Prof. Spiekermann has been the vice-chair of this standard since its initiation and has philosophically grounded it in material value ethics; that is the phenomenology of values developed by Max Scheler (1). The approach chosen in IEEE 7000 is called “Value-based Engineering”; early descriptions of which can be found in the textbook “Ethical IT Innovation” (2). Value-based Engineering builds on and extends two decades of applied research called Value Sensitive Design (3). Although being a virtue ethical approach towards ethics, Value-based Engineering embraces a broad spectrum of other ethical theories (utilitarianism, duty ethics and other global ethics) to elicit stakeholder values.

Prof. Spiekermann has supported the IEEE 7000 set-up, served as vice-chair throughout the whole creation of the standard, let the subgroup for the ethical sections in this standard (together with Jake Metcalf, Centre for Data & Society, New York) and drafted the initial standard documents that served as the basis for further development. Over 100 international calls took place between 2016 and 2021, involving over 150 experts, 34 of which were officially part of the workgroup.

Ph.D students of the Institute for IS & Society, namely Till Winkler and Kathrin Bednar have supported the standardization process as well. In particular they helped to set-up and analyze several case-studies accompanying this standardization effort. Kathrin Bednar has published a working paper describing some of the real effects of using the standard (4).

A summary of the effort can be found in the September issue of the IEEE Technology & Society Magazine (5).

References

  1. Scheler, M. (1921 (1973)). Formalism in Ethics and Non-formal Ethics of Values: A New Attempt Toward the Foundation of an Ethical Personalism. USA, Northwestern University Press.

  2. Spiekermann, S. (2016). Ethical IT Innovation - A Value-based System Design Approach New York, London and Boca Raton CRC Press, Taylor & Francis.

  3. Friedman, B. and P. Kahn (2003). Human values, ethics, and design. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. J. Jacko and A. Sears. Mahwah: NY, USA, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  4. Bednar, Kathrin, Spiekermann-Hoff, Sarah. 2020. On the power of ethics: How value-based thinking fosters creative and sustainable IT innovation. Working Papers / Institute for IS & Society. URL: https://bach.wu-wien.ac.at/d/research/results/97385/

  5. Spiekermann, S. (2021), What to expect from IEEE 7000TM - The first standard for building ethical systems, IEEE Technology & Society Magazine, September 2021

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