About

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The Swiss Digital Initiative is a long-term, sustainable process to safeguard ethical standards in the digital world through concrete projects. It brings together academia, government, civil society and business to find solutions to strengthen trust in digital technologies and in the actors involved in ongoing digital transformation.

The SDI builds upon the numerous initiatives and commitments released by states, international organizations and the private sector and aims to enable a global dialogue on the ethics of digitalization.

The ethical challenges of digitalization should be tackled through a multi-stakeholder approach, with public and private sector initiatives so that the full potential of digital technologies can be unleashed to serve communities and society.

To reach the above stated ambition, the SDI seeks to enable a high quality global conversation on the ethics of digitalization.

The initiative is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It was initiated by the cross-sector association digitalswitzerland under the patronage of Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer.

Objectives

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Put into action ethical values and principle
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Develop specific, action-oriented projects
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Lead the global dialogue on digital ethics
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Foster trust in digital technologies and in the actors of digital transformation

The starting point

In September 2019, the first Swiss Global Digital Summit took place in Geneva, Switzerland to provide a platform to promote in-depth discussions on “Ethics and Fairness in the Age of Digital Transformation”. the Summit also represented the starting point of the “Swiss Digital Initiative” (SDI).

Two dozen high-ranking representatives of the global and Swiss economy, leading representatives of Swiss universities and international organizations, invited by the President of the Swiss Confederation Ueli Maurer, discussed governance, ethics and trust in the digital age. During WEF 2020 in Davos, the Swiss Digital Initiative celebrated its official launch and the creation of the foundation.

Participants of the first Swiss Global Digital Summit:

Adecco Group: Alain Dehaze, CEO
Booking.com: Gillian Tans, Chairwoman
Credit Suisse: Tidjane Thiam, Group CEO
EPFL: Martin Vetterli, President
ETH Zurich: Joël Mesot, President
Facebook: Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice-President EMEA
Geneva Internet Platform: Jovan Kurbalija, Head
Google: Olivier Bousquet, Lead of EMEA Google AI teams
Huawei: Eric Xu, Deputy Chairman/Rotating Chairman
IBM: Martin Jetter, Senior Vice President & Chairman, IBM Europe
ICRC: Peter Maurer, President
Kudelski: André Kudelski, Chairman and CEO
Doris Leuthard, former Federal Councillor
Microsoft: Brad Smith, President
Migros: Fabrice Zumbrunnen, CEO
Mozilla: Mitchell Baker, Chairwoman

Nestlé: Beatrice Guillaume-Grabisch, Executive Vice President / Global Head Human Resources & Business Services
NZZ: Etienne Jornod, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Ringier: Michael Ringier, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Roche: Christoph Franz, Chairman
SBB: Andreas Meyer, CEO
Swisscom: Urs Schäppi, CEO
SwissRe: Christian Mumenthaler, Group CEO
Siemens: Matthias Rebellius, COO Siemens Smart Infrastructure & CEO Siemens Schweiz AG
United Nations: Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for human rights
Université de Genève: Yves Flückiger, Rector
Uber: Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Vice President
UBS: Sergio Ermotti, Group CEO
WEF: Alois Zwinggi, Managing Director
Zurich Insurance: Mario Greco, Group CEO

Contributors to the development of the Swiss Digital Initiative Statement

Prof. Abraham Bernstein, University of Zurich
Prof. Antoine Geissbühler, University of Geneva
Prof. Effy Vayena, ETH Zurich

Prof. Jacques de Werra, University of Geneva
Prof. Jean-Pierre Hubaux, EPFL
Prof. Stefan Bechtold, ETH Zurich

Download the Statement

SDI guiding principles

The SDI stakeholders agree to following principles that will govern the definition and implmentation of SDI projects.

The principles and the main objectives of the Swiss Digital Initiative are embedded in the overall aims and objectives of the Initiative in a commitment statement elaborated with the contribution of renowned academic experts from the ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne, University of Geneva and University of Zurich. This statement was presented and accepted at the first Swiss Global Digital Summit.

Inclusiveness

Projects must commit to a participatory and inclusive process open to all relevant and interested stakeholders, including users, civil society, vulnerable groups and critical voices, regulators, and corporations. This multi-stakeholder approach will increase overall trust in data driven applications and algorithmic processes and ensure their lawful, non discriminatory and fair use.

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Awareness

Insights from the many other relevant initiatives to shape ethical frameworks within the digital sphere must be taken into account throughout the process. This will ensure consideration of hidden assumptions and biases, relating to demographics, geographic, or other forms of under-representation, to reduce unfair biases and discrimination rather than to create new or reinforce existing ones.

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Transparency

Projects must guarantee transparent communication with stakeholders and the public.

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Agility & Flexibility

The SDI process should remain flexible and agile to allow experimentation and innovation, while balancing the benefits and risks.

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Responsiveness

Projects will emphasize the development of mechanisms that will enable appropriate responses to emerging harms or governance needs not foreseen.

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Sustainability

The SDI process will live up to the requirements of sustainability by
striving for a minimized impact on resources, in particular by taking advantage of technologies in order to spare these resources.

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Benevolence

SDI projects must strive to implement human-centric approaches that put
people’s rights and needs - as enshrined in principles such as autonomy, explicability, or fairness - at the heart of technical progress.

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Accountability

SDI stakeholders and the implementation of SDI projects will commit to acting responsibly with regard to the initiative’s commitments, and in their dealings with resources, people, and facts. If personal data is gathered or used as part of these projects, the privacy of individuals will be assured at all times in accordance with applicable data protection law.

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Board of Directors

Doris Leuthard

Chairwoman, former Swiss Federal Councillor and Member of the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation

Yves Flückiger

Rector University of Geneva

Ivo Furrer

President digitalswitzerland

Walter Thurnherr

Swiss Federal Chancellor (ad personam)

Martin Vetterli

President EPFL

Marc Walder

CEO Ringier and Founder digitalswitzerland

Executive Team

Niniane Paeffgen

Managing Director

Manuel Liatowitsch

Secretary of the Foundation, Partner at Schellenberg Wittmer Attorneys at Law

Johan Rochel

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