We are daily exposed to news telling creepy stories about smart objects gathering people’s data, yet such an unethical practice is widely left unaddressed for the sake of technology-led economic-growth. No one yet knows how to solve the challenges of ensuring ethical data practices in the way new technologies are designed. The EU has made significant legislative and advocacy efforts to address societal concerns brought about by technological innovation in data processing. Nevertheless, we lack practical guidelines and assessment procedures to embed ethical, social and data protection values in the design and development of data intensive technologies and services.

VIRT-EU applies an interdisciplinary research approach to generate new knowledge and methods that aims to overtake the unproved assumption according to which technological development leaves no room for ethical and moral reasoning.

Virt-EU aims to intervene at the point of design to foster ethical thinking among developers of IoT solutions. In fact, addressing social concerns in new technologies, not only impacts changes in regulatory regimes but also influences the process of imagining and developing the next generation of digital technologies within European clusters of creative innovation.

For these reasons Virt-EU will develop actionable tools to encourage reflection among developers on the relationship between technological innovation and societal concerns, to enable a self-assessment of ethical and social impact of the envisioned technologies.