Philosophy and Ethics

Our institute specialises in analytic moral philosophy, exploring the intricate relationship between ethical theory and practical application, particularly in the realms adjacent to our core discipline. At the heart of our research lies the concept of "Ethics by Design"— an examination of how ethical considerations can be seamlessly woven into the development process of technology, with a specific focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI). This approach is key to promoting truly sustainable innovation, and aims to ensure that advancements are not only technologically sound but also ethically justifiable.

Central to our inquiry are issues surrounding moral and legal responsibility, the ethical implications of safety and security, and the promotion of human well-being. We also focus on the challenges to democratic values in the digital age, the principles of sustainability, data privacy, and the notion of consent. Furthermore, our research addresses the significance of personal autonomy, the pursuit of fairness, and the practical application of abstract ethical standards. Finally, we also go beyond canonical questions in ethics and explore themes of human and artificial creativity.

We believe that successful ethics in technology requires a firm grounding in foundational research in philosophy.

In addition, our institute has two further internal divisions: media & technology as well as art & technology.

Media and Technology

The "Media and Technology" division at the Institute for Ethics in Technology investigates how technology and media intertwine, focusing on two main aspects. First, it examines the influence of technological advancements on the creation of new media forms, highlighting the significant role early technologies played in shaping today's media landscape. This line of inquiry not only traces the historical evolution of media but also assesses its ongoing impact on how we consume and understand media today.

Second, the division explores the portrayal of technology within media, particularly through film. Here, the fictional representation of technology acts as a mirror to society's hopes, fears, and future aspirations, with a special emphasis on artificial intelligence and human-machine interactions. This approach reveals the complex relationship between media, technology, and societal values.

By marrying media's historical development with its contemporary representations, the division seeks to uncover how media and technology collectively reflect and influence societal attitudes and expectations. This research offers insights into the intricate dynamics of media culture, emphasising the social, economic, and ideological contexts that inform our engagement with media.

Art and Technology

The "Art and Technology" division at the Institute for Ethics in Technology examines the dynamic between art and technology, also through two lenses. First, the division explores how technological advancements—from ancient architectural innovations to modern digital and interactive art, AI, blockchain, and 3D printing—have historically fostered new artistic expressions and continue to challenge concepts of authorship and creativity. This includes examining the role of technology in creating immersive and participatory art experiences, highlighting the transformative impact of tech on art creation and interaction.

Second, technology's role as an artistic medium and subject is scrutinized, showing how it not only influences the aesthetic content of art but also encourages a reflective engagement with technology itself. Through examining movements from Art Nouveau to High-Tech architecture and contemporary projects that blend biology with technology, the division reveals how art critically engages with technological themes, expanding our understanding of both fields.

Interdisciplinary Research Clusters at TUHH

Our institute is also part of two interdisciplinary research clusters ("Forschungsschwerpunkte", or FSPs) at TUHH.


FSP Cyber-Physical Systems

This research cluster at TUHH is dedicated to the comprehensive study of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), encompassing a wide range of aspects from sensor technology and hardware to software development and application in fields such as smart grids, medical diagnostics, and robotics. This research initiative focuses on enhancing the reliability and energy efficiency of CPS to support critical, real-time operations. The program adopts an interdisciplinary approach that includes the development of novel communication networks, security measures for CPS integrity, and the application of machine learning for adaptive control methods. Through this effort, the FSP aims to contribute to the advancement of smart technologies and their integration into various sectors.

The Institute for Ethics in Technology enriches the Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) research at TUHH by infusing critical ethical perspectives into areas such as safety-critical calculations, communication across domains, and the interaction between CPS and humans. Focusing on ensuring the privacy, integrity, and security of CPS, the Institute addresses ethical challenges in designing energy-efficient systems, developing reliable software that meets stringent requirements, and implementing adaptive control methods using machine learning. By contributing ethical considerations to the development and application of CPS in diverse fields like medical technology, smart grids, and robotics, the Institute also further pursues its theme "ethics by design".


FSP Medical Technology & Biomechanics

This research cluster aims to enhance medical technology, working closely with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf within the Medical Technology Research Center. This collaboration allows for the development and clinical testing of innovative techniques, merging engineering with medical knowledge. Key research areas encompass imaging, robotics, microelectronics, and tissue engineering, as well as projects focused on improving material-tissue interfaces and creating medical implants. Through both foundational and practical research, the FSP is essential in tackling health issues faced by an ageing society.

The Institute for Ethics in Technology helps integrate ethical considerations into these research areas, especially imaging methods, robotics, microelectronic sensors, and human-machine interfaces. By collaborating with other researchers at TUHH, we address ethical dilemmas surrounding patient privacy, consent, and the impact of new technologies on human health and society.