Digital Ethics Lab

Why a Digital Ethics Lab?

Digitalization allows for the increased outsourcing of thinking and decision-making to machines, enables the collection of enormous amounts of data on all aspects of our lives, and makes human civilization increasingly dependent on digital infrastructure. This “ABC” of digitization - algorithms, big data and cybersecurity - needs ethical orientation to ensure that digital change is moving in the right direction. 

To this end, the Digital Ethics Lab of the DSI (DSI-DEL) has built up an extensive research pipeline to analyse the burning questions of digital transformation and find answers to questions such as: How do we ensure that decisions made by artificial intelligence are fair? How can the data collected about us be used for the benefit of all? How far can our privacy be invaded when it comes to cybersecurity?  How does the digitalisation of everyday life affect people as moral beings? 

Who forms the Digital Ethics Lab?

The DSI-DEL is the research core of the Ethics Community of the Digital Society Initiative (DSI). The Ethics Community unites all researchers of the DSI who work explicitly on ethical questions of digitisation. Currently (beginning of 2020), there are about 30 researchers in the community. The Ethics Community forms a “Cross-Cutting Activity” of the DSI.

Part of the DSI-DEL are researchers who are directly involved in ethics projects of the DSI or collaborate in third-party funded projects affiliated to the DSI.

Currently, these are the following researchers:

PD Dr. Markus Christen (IBME & DSI)
Olivia Hänni (master student)
Ana-Marija Ivancevic (master student)
Serhiy Kandul (DSI)
Dr. Markus Kneer (Centre of Ethics)
Dr. Michele Loi (IBME & DSI)
Maika Schelb (master student)
Suzanne Tolmeijer (IfI)
Dr. Eleonora Vigano (IBME & DSI)
Ning Wang (IBME)
Rebecca Warth (master student)

Former collaborators:

Roxane Bachmann (master student, 2016-2017)
Nadine Corbach (master student, 2015-2017)
Samuel Eckstein (master student, 2015-2017)
Martina Gloor (master student, 2015-2017)
Christian Ineichen (2011-2016)
Johannes Katsarov (2016-2020)
Manasseh Seidenberg (master student, 2016-2017)
Priyatharsan Yoganathan (master student, 2015-2016)

What is the DSI-DEL researching?

In recent years, the DSI-DEL has built up a comprehensive project pipeline and is successfully operating in the field of classical research funding (National Fund, Innosuisse, etc.):


  • Socially acceptable AI and fairness tradeoffs in predictive analytics: funded by the National Research Programme 77 "Digital Transformation", runs until March 2024
  • "Meaningful Human Control of Security Systems aligning international humanitarian law with human psychology", funded by the National Research Programme 77 "Digital Transformation", runs until March 2024
  • “Algorithmic Fairness in data-based decision making: Combining ethics and technology»: Financed by Innosuisse, runs until December 2022.
  • "Assessment of automated decision making in timecritical situations with high uncertainty - Development of a demonstrator for applications in the safety area". Financed by armasuisse Science and Technology, runs until December 2021.

Big Data:

  • "Creating an ELSI Task Force for the NRP75 Big Data". Financed by the National Research Programme 75 "Big Data", runs until 2021


  • «Creating an ethical and legal governance framework for trustworthy cybersecurity in Switzerland»: funded by the National Research Programme 77 "Digital Transformation", runs until December 2023

Other topics:

  • "Valuesensitive humanitarian innovation: Opportunities and challenges to integrate ethical values in the humanitarian use of drones": Funding by the Swiss Network of International Studies, runs until March 2021

Former third-party funded projects (since 2017):

  • 2019-2020: «Wenn Algorithmen an unserer Stelle entscheiden: die Herausforderungen der künstlichen Intelligenz». Financed by the Swiss Foundation of Technology Assessment
  • 2019: «Automatisiertes Personalmanagement und Mitbestimmung – eine Expertise»: Financed by AlgorithmWatch.
  • 2010-2020: «Ausarbeitung eines EthikCodexes für die datenbasierte Wertschöpfung». In collaboratioin with the Swiss Alliance for Data-intensive Services, financed by Innosuisse.
  • 2017-2019: «Between Solidarity and Personalization – Dealing with Ethical and Legal Big Data Challenges in the Insurance Industry». Financed by the National Research Programme 75 «Big Data».
  • 2017-2019: CANVAS – Constructing an Alliance for Value-driven Cybersecurity. Financed by the europan Commission 
  • 2017-2020: «Moral Sensitivity: Investigating Implications, Justifications, and Means of Improvements»: Financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation.