Prof. Dr. Bert Heinrichs

Bert Heinrichs
© Forschungszentrum Jülich

Current Position

  • Professor for Ethics and Applied Ethics, Institute of Science and Ethics (IWE), University of Bonn
  • Group Leader "Neurothics and Ethics of AI" at the Institute for Neurosciences and Medicine: Brain and Behaviour (INM-7), Forschungszentrum Jülich

Previous Employments

  • 2001 - 2002: Webmaster / Information Assistant, United Nations Volunteers (UNV), Bonn 
  • 2002 - 2005: Research Assistant, Institute of Science and Ethics (IWE), University of Bonn
  • 2005 - 2007: Research Assistant, German Reference Centre for Ethics in the Life Sciences (DRZE), University of Bonn 
  • 2007 - 2015: Head of Research Departement, German Reference Centre for Ethics in the Life Sciences (DRZE), University of Bonn

Academic Record

  • 1995 - 2001: Study of Philosophy, Mathematics and Educational Sciences in Bonn and Grenoble
  • 2001: M.A. (Philosophy, Mathematics)
  • 2002 - 2006: Doctoral Studies (Philosophy) at the University of Bonn
  • 2007: Dr. phil. (Philosophy)
  • 2013: Habilitation (Philosophy)

Ongoing Research Projects

Beyond Mere Performance: An Ethical Framework for the Use of AI in Neuromedicine

Digitization will permanently change large parts of health research and health care in the foreseeable future. An essential prerequisite for society's proper information and reflective engagement with digitization, Big Data applications, artificial intelligence (AI), and medical informatics in research and care is the careful analysis of opportunities and risks for further engagement.

The FRAIM collaborative project is part of the BMBF funding measure "Research on Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects (ELSA) of Digitalization, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in Health Research and Care". The aim of this measure is to investigate the impact of new technologies on science and society and to work towards a socially accepted and responsible framework for their use. The aim of the FRAIM alliance is to provide an evaluation framework for AI techniques applied in medical diagnostics and decision-making. For this purpose, detailed ethical and legal analyses will be conducted on the acceptance of and trust in AI-based procedures in the field of neuromedicine.

Project partners:

  • Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine: Brain and Behavior (INM-7), Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • Department of Law, University of Bonn
  • Institute for Systemic Neuroscience, University of Düsseldorf
  • German Reference Center for Ethics in the Life Sciences, University of Bonn 

Funding period: 2021-2024

Funded by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Further information:

AI-based Preventive Healthcare in Children and Adolescents (AI-PHCA)

This interdisciplinary project aims at exploring options for improving preventive healthcare in children and adolescents via artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools (smartphone apps, web-based applications) in ethical, legal, and social terms.

Currently, there is little comprehensive data on the attitudes of parents, children and adolescents, pediatricians, and other stakeholders toward the use of AI-based tools. At the same time, the ethical and legal challenges in this context have hardly been explored. Therefore, we aim at providing a solid data basis and profound ethical and legal analyses. Empirical methods (questionnaires, focus groups) will be used to investigate acceptance and understanding, availability and concerns of AI-based tools. In parallel, extensive literature reviews and conceptual analyses will be employed to identify key ethical and legal issues. In particular, we will investigate difficult trade-offs between the individual child’s best interests, informational self-determination, the rights and responsibilities of parents, and potential benefits to pediatrics and child and adolescent psychiatry. Finally, the project will provide a detailed assessment of the prospects for AI-based preventive health care for children and adolescents, laying the groundwork for further initiatives in this area.

Project partners:

  • Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine: Brain and Behavior (INM-7), Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • Clinic for General Pediatrics, Neonatology and Pediatric Cardiology, University Hospital Düsseldorf
  • Clinical Child Neuropsychology Section, University Hospital RWTH Aachen
  • Institute for Legal Issues in Medicine, University of Düsseldorf
  • Institute of Systems Neuroscience, University of Düsseldorf

Funding period: 2021-2024

Funded by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Now Published 

Recent Publications

  • Künstliche Intelligenz. Berlin: De Gruyter (Grundthemen Philosophie), 2022. (with Jan-Hendrik Heinrichs und Markus Rüther).
  • Ethical Implications of e-Health Applications in Early Preventive Healthcare. In: Frontiers in Genetics (2022) 13:902631. https://doi: 10.3389/fgene.2022.902631 (with Mandy Stake).
  • Can we read minds by imaging brains? In: Philosophical Psychology (2022). (with Charles Rathkopf und Jan-Hendrik Heinrichs).
  • Discrimination in the Age of AI. In: AI & Society 37 (2022), 143–154.
  • Moral gestalten. Zur Bezugnahme auf natürliche Tatsachen in der Ethik. In: Sturma, Dieter (Hg.): Natur, Ethik und Ästhetik. Paderborn: Brill mentis 2022, 173-186.
  • Aliens in the Space of Reasons? On the Interaction Between Humans and Artificial Intelligent Agents. In: Philosophy & Technology 34 (2021), 1569-1580. (with Sebastian Knell).
  • Der vorhersagbare Mensch. In: Der Nervenarzt 92 (2021), 1140-1148. (with Simon Eickhoff).
  • Entfremdung im Raum der Gründe. Überlegungen zur möglichen Transformation diskursiver Praktiken durch künstliche Intelligenz. In: Scheidewege 51 (2021), 52-74 (with Sebastian Knell).
  • Is it possible to simulate “thought”? In: Benetka, Gerhard; Werbik, Hans (Hg.): Discussing Cognitive Neuroscience. Psychology, Neurophysiology, and Philosophy on the Mind, Body and Brain. Cham: Springer, 2021, 153-163.
  • Moral ambivalence. A comment on NIPT from an ethical perspective. In: Journal of Perinatal Medicine 49 (2021), 949-952 .
  • 学・道徳生理学・行為の根拠 [Neurowissenschaften, Moralphysiologie, Handlungsgründe]. In: Yasushi Kato, Takeshi Kojima (eds.): 尊厳と社会(上)[Würde und Gesellschaft 1]. Hosei University Press, 2020, 297-318.
  • Moral gestalten. Methoden der Angewandten Ethik. In: Methoden in der praktischen Philosophie. Praefaktisch [Blog]. (23. Juli 2020).
  • Moralische Entscheidungen in tragischen Situationen. In: Lebenszeichen – Wir bleiben im Gespräch. (07. April 2020)
  • Aristotelian Naturalism and the Concept of Person. In. Hähnel, Martin (ed.): Aristotelian Naturalism: A Research Companion, Berlin: Springer, 2020, 425–439.
  • Das Orakel-Syndrom. Zum Einsatz künstlicher Intelligenz in der medizinischen Diagnostik. In: Philosophie aktuell [Blog]. (02. March 2020).
  • Your evidence? Machine learning algorithms for medical diagnosis and prediction. In: Human Brain Mapping (online first). (with Simon Eickhoff).
  • Was tut der Mensch, der handelt? Christine M. Korsgaard. In: Müller-Salo, Johannes (Hg): Themen analytischer Philosophie. Eine Einführung in 16 Fragen und Antworten. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink / UTB, 2020, 157-172 (with Markus Rüther).
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