Responsible Research and Innovation

‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ covers many of the topics that have always been at the core of CCSR. It provides the theoretical underpinning, as well as looking at how responsibility can, and should, be brought into the process of bringing ICTs into practical use.

This thematic area therefore aims to:

  • Explore the ethical theories and philosophy surrounding ICT use, research and innovation
  • Develop indications of morally appropriate/virtuous behaviour related to ICT use in a variety of spheres
  • Explore issues around the way ICTs are used, where appropriate in conjunction with consideration of other phases of the life-cycle
  • Engage in broader discourses with users, industry, policy makers and other stakeholders about the way they procure, use and dispose of ICTs
  • Identify where current and near-future behaviour falls short of the morally appropriate, or where it does not reflect virtuous dispositions
  • Identify ways in which these gaps could be addressed, by suggesting ways of improving the ways ICTs are used, procured and disposed of

The term “Responsible Research and Innovation” puts a lot of focus on the individual who is (or isn’t) responsible, their motivation, how their behaviour might be changed and the pressures on them to behave in ways that are not morally ideal.

CCSR has a strong track record of working on Responsible Research and Innovation. From the outset it has been centrally concerned with professionalism, with involvement in the development of professional codes (and awareness of the limitations of them). The research on eVoting which has since expanded into a theme that includes eGovernment would, at the time, have been classified as being within this strand, for good reason.

This thematic area concentrates on ICT artefacts and application areas that either have been developed or are very close to application. As such, there is a grey area between this area and the ‘Emerging Technologies’ thematic area (and presumably as technologies come towards widespread application they become less relevant to that thematic area and more relevant to this). Other thematic areas can also be expected to cover topics that could equally be covered in the Responsible Research and Innovation thematic area. There will thus need to be awareness and cooperation to avoid duplication of effort and ‘treading on toes’.

Indicative Examples

  • Professionalism in ICT professions
  • Green ICT
  • Virtue Theory in Computer Ethics

Approaches to Responsible Research and Innovation

Ethical Theory:

  • Virtue Ethics
  • Consequentialism
  • Deontoligism
  • Applying contingent yet consistent results of diverse ethical theories to practical circumstances (theoretical viewpoints and in practice)
  • Global Ethics

Ethics Education:

  • Ethics in the curriculum
  • Professionalism
  • Professional Codes

Green IT:

  • Individual behaviour
  • Corporate behaviour
  • Systems influences

Activities of the Thematic Area

The thematic area could, perhaps, meet on a fortnightly basis to develop a more detailed plan and then implement it. Initial guiding questions could be:

  • What research questions are worth pursuing?
  • How can the research be supported? (e.g. funded project, PhD student work)
  • Which outcomes would we envisage (academic publications, engagement with professional bodies, public engagement, policy advice,…)?
  • How can these be realised?
  • Where does CCSR have the resources to intervene in relevant debates?
  • Is it appropriate for any future CCSR involvement in the running of ETHICOMP to be associated with this thematic area?




  • Brent Mittelstadt


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