Soft Digital Ethics

As our world is becoming evermore digital, we need increasingly not only off- but also online guidelines for ethical behavior. In this spirit, literature distinguishes between hard and soft ethics, whereby the former is what may contribute to making or shaping laws and regulations. Soft ethics, on the other hand, covers the same normative ground as hard ethics, but it does so by considering what ought and ought not to be done over and above the existing norms, not against them, or despite their scope, or to change them, or to by-pass them (e.g., in Internet self-regulation of big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence). This kind of digital ethics, which we blend with a fuzzy, pluralistic as well as multicultural worldview, can be exercised in places of the world where digital regulation is on the good side of the moral (i.e., in Europe and Switzerland).

  • An AI Ethic for Swiss Society

    Referred to as new oil, data is becoming increasingly central. The oil fuels the machinery of our Swiss society thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, data does not exhaust, it grows. One should therefore not think of data as a static machine, but rather as a kind of living organism that better and better represents our society. Yet, a living organism is very complex and must therefore be viewed and researched holistically. Thereby ethical considerations play an increasingly prominent role.

    As a Service Public company, in a Corporate Digital Responsibility project, Swiss Post (as other network industries) is striving to get its data strategy Swisswide approved and thus, together with the Human-IST ecosystem, is inviting the society for a broad digital ethics discussion. Key stakeholders include politicians, the public sector, companies, universities and citizen associations etc. This transdisciplinary project arose from the Swiss Human-IST Association, which was formed in the Smart Capital Region and which deals holistically with humanistic values for a sustainable as well as a responsible digitization of Switzerland.

    Based on human and ethical values discussed in this ecosystem, we develop a label (or Charta) for a human-centered, sustainable and responsible digitalization of Switzerland. Inspired by human rights, and looking at human experience, democracy and federalism, this Human-IST label will be awarded to digital products and services that follow ethical and humanistic principles. Thereby, the idea is to provide and distribute the label with a Human-IST blockchain solution.


    Human-IST collaborators: Edy Portmann, Denis Lalanne, Luis Terán

    Partners/ External collaborators (companies): Swiss Post, Smart Capital Region