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Value-based System Engineering for Ethics by Design

In this talk, I will first summarize the motivation for ethics by design and value-based engineering and why I think that the German Business Informatics Community is in a unique position to leave its imprint on forming a better IT world. I then outline how ethics by design can be achieved through value-based engineering. I show how innovation teams can identify relevant values for a system’s design and then ensure that value dispositions effectively end up in the technical and organizational requirements. In this vein, I will explain what values are according to 100 years of research in material value ethics (phenomenology) and how they can be identified with the help of classical ethical theories (like utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and duty ethics). Against this background, my talk will include a cautious note on why „lists“ of values or value principles (transparency, bias, accountability, etc.)  are nice to have, but incomplete to create a sustainable system design in practice. The methods described are largely corresponding to the current work status of the IEEE P7000 group, which I co-chair and co-initiated. IEEE P7000 is planned to become IEEE’s model process for ethical system engineering (https://standards.ieee.org/project/7000.html)


Sarah Spiekermann is a tenured professor for Business Informatics at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) where she chairs the Institute for Information Systems & Society. She is a well-regarded scientist, author, speaker and advisor on digital ethics. She published several books, including “Digital Ethics – A Value System for the 21st Century” (Droemer, 2019), “Ethical IT Innovation: A Value-based System Design Approach” (Taylor & Francis, 2015), as well as “Networks of Control” (Facultas, 20116). In 2016 Sarah founded the Privacy & Sustainable Computing Lab at WU Vienna. To date, she has published over 100 scientific articles on the social and ethical implications of computer systems and given more than 200 talks about her work. She has co-authored US/EU privacy regulation and worked as an expert and advisor to companies and governmental institutions, including the EU Commission and the OECD.