Our Work

Advancing practice-oriented ethics in the digital age

In recent decades, digital transformation has fundamentally altered how humans interact, how companies conduct business, and how governments work. More recently, data-driven applications and algorithmic processes have created unprecedented opportunities for citizens, companies and governments around the world, pertaining to the fields of automated data processing and automated decision-making procedures. These applications have great potential to increase innovation and productivity, and to further the welfare of individuals and societies.

However, such data-driven applications and algorithmic processes also present potential risks. Despite the best intentions, they have the capacity to cause unintentional harm and may affect human rights, individual autonomy, competitive market order, financial stability, democratic processes, and national sovereignty. In addition, they can increase inequality and shift control away from humans to algorithms. The deep transformation of our societies triggered by these applications has the potential to undermine trust between citizens, companies, and governments.

Thus, building trust in digital infrastructure and strengthen responsibility for individuals and organizations will be the foundation for societal innovation in the next decade of digital transformation.

To this end, the SDI works on concrete projects to put into practice ethical standards in the digital age. Our work will continue to focus on the following three areas:

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Digital Trust

Digital Trust Label

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We launched the first Digital Trust Label in January 2022. The label denotes the trustworthiness of a digital service in clear, visual and plain, non-technical language for everyone to understand. With the Label, consumers can be assured of the trustworthiness of the digital service they consume.

Find out more on our dedicated project page.

Digital Trust Whitepaper

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In our Digital Trust Whitepaper we outline our understanding of trust, our learnings through the development of the Digital Trust Label and we present the Digital Trust Framework.

Read the Whitepaper here.

Digital Trust from the User’s Perspective

Digital Trust is a cornerstone of a successful digital transformation. Even great technologies and good legislation may fall short if trust is not guaranteed. That is why the Swiss Digital Initiative (SDI) made the issue of Digital Trust a priority for its work. To assess the Swiss population’s mindset regarding trust in the digital world, a qualitative study was carried out in. November 2019.

Read the study here.

Digital Trust Ecosystem

Having started our work already in 2019, we have closely followed developments in the field of digital trust.

To foster collaboration among like-minded initiatives, we have compiled a comprehensive report on the digital trust ecosystem that takes a closer look at 12 of the most relevant initiatives and analyzed success factors as well as similarities and differences compared to the Swiss Digital Trust Label. The full report is available here.

While the report offers more details on featured projects, it provides a snapshot. We also have compiled an interactive overview that is regularly updated to keep track of the dynamic Digital Trust Ecosystem. Take a look at this resource here.

AI Ethics

ADface

As part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness for the importance of digital responsibility and ethics in artificial intelligence, the Swiss Digital Initiative has partnered up with the renowned art school HEAD in Geneva to create the interactive experience ‘ADface’. The web-based tool uses artificial intelligence to analyse a person's face and create a user profile to produce targeted advertisements that could fit the user profile. A simple tool to show that AI is already deeply embedded in and influencing everyday life. Art and design can be a valuable ally for raising awareness and stimulating critical thinking around the societal implications of new technologies.

All the details here.

Event Series

As part of the Swiss digital days, we conducted an event series to look at AI ethics from the perspective of the public & the private sector and to discuss scenarios for the future. Find the event summaries here:

Digital Responsibility in Practice

CDR Platform

We are currently conducting a project with IMD Lausanne to gather best practices when it comes to implementing principles of Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR). Those learnings will be shared with the public to increase adoption of CDR.

Overarching activities

Active in Working Groups

The Swiss Digital Initiative is a member of the following working groups to advance digital ethics & responsibility:

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Trendmap of the Digital Economy and Society developed by W.I.R.E

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In a trend map developed for SDI, the independent think tank W.I.R.E. identified strategic areas of action for decision-makers to foster trust and responsibility. In the next decade, we will face more individual empowerment, increased convenience, new communities, and higher security, but we also have to prepare for data-driven intransparencies, algorithmic discrimination, loss of control, and the erosion of privacy. Based on these findings, SDI aims to explore new projects and measures in the future.

Our Publications

For an overview of all our publications, see here.