Accompanying technology development in the Human Brain Project: From foresight to ethics management


This paper addresses the question of managing the existential risk potential of general Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as the more near-term yet hazardous and disruptive implications of specialised AI, from the perspective of a particular research project that could make a significant contribution to the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI): the Human Brain Project (HBP), a ten year Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship of the European Commission. The HBP aims to create a digital research infrastructure for brain science, cognitive neuroscience, and brain-inspired computing. This paper builds on work undertaken in the HBP’s Ethics and Society subproject (SP12). Collaborators from two activities in SP12, Foresight and Researcher Awareness on the one hand, and Ethics Management on the other, use the case of machine intelligence to illustrate key aspects of the dynamic processes through which questions of ethics and society, including existential risks, are approached in the organisational context of the HBP. The overall aim of the paper is to provide practice-based evidence, enriched by self-reflexive assessment of the approach used and its limitations, for guiding policy makers and communities who are, and will be, engaging with such questions.


Open access article


Responsible Research and Innovation, Human Brain Project, Foresight, Ethics Management, Artificial Intelligence


Aicardi, C., Fothergill, B.T., Rainey, S., Stahl, B. and Harris, E. (2018) Accompanying technology development in the Human Brain Project: From foresight to ethics management. Futures, 102, pp. 114-124


Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)