As the new director of the IWE and holder of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for Applied Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, Prof. Dr. van Wynsberghe introduces a new research focus to the IWE. This new focus strives to provide robust and comprehensive grounding to public policy guidelines for the green, proportionate and sustainable development and use of AI. To this end, the Sustainable AI Lab has been established within the IWE to further this line of research.

The research pillars of the IWE are:

Ethics of AI and Robotics
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The Ethics of AI and Robotics

Principle Lead: Prof. Dr. Aimee van Wynsberghe

The pervasive development and use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in the 21st century has brought optimism for progress along with concern for the stewardship of societal values and human rights. The IWE pillar for the ethics of robotics/ai deals with the impact of these technologies on: the lives of individuals, infrastructures and global society. It explores the range of ethical questions pertaining to each stage in the life cycle of robotics/ai, including idea generation, development, usage, and governance. Researchers in this pillar build on conceptual tools from ethics of technology, environmental ethics, and care ethics, to name a few.

Environmental Ethics

Principle Lead: Dr. Taylor Stone

The IWE undertakes both conceptual and practical research into the ethical dimensions of environmental issues. The 21st century will bring unprecedented environmental challenges requiring urgent action, including climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, rapid urbanization, and pollution. Alongside political action and technical innovation is a continued need to analyze the moral foundations of the problems – and proposed solutions – created by these environmental challenges. Conceptual research includes topics such as intergenerational (climate) justice, the geographical dualism of built and natural environments, and the philosophical foundations of wilderness preservation. This is complimented by practical research on topics including animal welfare and animal rights, policy guidelines for emerging technologies, the environmental costs of healthcare technologies, and urban sustainability.
Environmental Ethics
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Neuro Ethics
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Principle Lead: Prof. Dr. Bert Heinrichs.

Neuroethics, broadly conceived, is the branch of applied ethics that deals with scientific research and technological developments related to the human brain. This includes imaging techniques that provide insight into how the brain works which and are used for both scientific and medical purposes. It also includes (invasive and non-invasive) interventions to alter brain states. Topics of neuroethics currently under intense discussion are, for example, issues of neuroenhancement and brain-computer interfaces, but also, specific issues of informed consent, e.g. in Alzheimer’s research. Moreover, neuroethics is increasingly focusing on the use of AI. Of particular interest here are questions of human-machine interaction as well as the prediction of brain diseases and personality traits. IWE's work aims to better understand such philosophical and ethical issues and to develop approaches that enable responsible research and implementation.


Prof. Dr. Aimee van Wynsberghe

  • Sustainable AI: AI for sustainability and the sustainability of AI »opinion paper«, 26 February 2021, Bonn (online)

Prof. Dr. Bert Heinrichs


  • Ethical Aspects of Human-Machine-Interaction
    Workshop »DIRENE Competences for the new era of user-driven digital rehabilitation«, 15 September 2021
  • Aliens in the Space of Reasons? On the Interaction Between Humans and Artificial Intelligent Agents
  • Conference »(Unintended) Information in Human-Machine Interaction. Implications on the Individual and Societal Level«, 21-23 April 2021, München (online)
  • Künstliche Intelligenz in der medizinischen Diagnostik
    Reihe »Wissenschaft Online«, 25 February 2021, Jülich (online)


  • Moralische Ambivalenz. Überlegungen zur NIPD
    Symposium der Stiftung für das behinderte Kind mit dem Universitätsklinikum Bonn, 12 December 2020, Bonn (online)
  • Künstliche Intelligenz und diskursive Rationalität – KI in der medizinischen Diagnostik
    Vortragsreihe »KI in der Medizin«, 05 November 2020, München (online)

PD Dr. Sebastian Knell


  • Altersprävention. Individualethische Reflexion, in: Michael Fuchs (Hg.), Handbuch Alter und Altern. Anthropologie - Kultur - Ethik, Metzler Verlag/Springer Nature, Berlin 2021, S. 282-292.
  • (together with Bert Heinrichs): Entfremdung im Raum der Gründe. Überlegungen zur möglichen Transformation diskursiver Praktiken durch Künstliche Intelligenz, in: Scheidewege 51 (2021), S. 51-69
  • (together with Bert Heinrichs): Aliens in the Space of Reasons? On the Interaction Between Humans and Artificial Intelligent Agents, in: Philosophy and Technology 2021
    (, 12p.


  • Transzendentaler Humanismus? Zu Michael Thompsons grundbegrifflicher Neubestimmung des Verhältnisses von Leben, Denken und Ethik, in: Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft und Ethik 2019, S. 1-30


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