Responsibility in the technological sciences
The principle of responsibility plays a critical role in the field of technology, since ultimately it is human beings who decide how technology is used. However, specialisation means that technological, social and environmental interrelationships are becoming more and more complex, leading to a diffusion of responsibility – individuals are increasingly reliant on information and opinions provided by other experts. This creates a need for the institutional allocation of responsibility through statutory or contractual regulations, for instance in liability law, and/or the assignment of responsibility to collective actors such as companies and associations. Nevertheless, the diffusion of responsibility can encourage some actors to knowingly break the law or abuse technology, causing outrage and insecurity among the public. It is important to address this problem, since security and trust in the field of technology are key to ensuring a successful future for Germany.
In view of the above, acatech is carrying out an in-depth investigation of responsibility in the complex and highly specialised field of technology engineering. Which ethical problems does technology pose? What dilemmas do people face in terms of their loyalty towards their bosses and employers? And how might ethical questions be incorporated into university studies? The project aims to conduct an in-depth analysis of this topic with a practical focus. As well as developing a structured approach to the subject matter and conducting a review of the current issues and actors, it will devise a framework for future work by acatech in this area.