Key Terms

Accessibility | Bias | Consent | Control Options | Design | Digital Sovereignty | Empowerment | Ethics by Design | Identification | Inference | Intuition | Location Based Service | Location Data | Location Privacy | Predictive Privacy | Privacy | Product | Responsible Innovation | Social Nature of Technology | Technology


Accessibility is giving equitable access to products and services for everyone in reference to their abilities and experiences. Accessibility means proactively designing what is necessary to create inclusion as empowerment. To learn more about this topic, please see our worksheet on Selection of target group and accessibility (PDF-file).


Bias refers to a tendency to favor certain ideas, things, persons or groups over others, often based on preconceived notions or stereotypes. In computer science biases are known as miscalculations, cognitive limitations or discrimination. The sources of biases can be both deliberate and unconscious. They can be created by lack of information, distortions in the distribution of data or errors in the calculations. In a responsible innovation approach to software development, designers engage in reflexive practices to become more aware of their own bias and how they might influence their perceptions, interpretations and decisions. To learn more about this topic, please see our worksheet on The ethical challenge of working with biases (PDF-file).

Consent is the autonomous and informed decision to do something. For an action to be consensual the underlying consequences of an action need to be understood to a satisfactory degree. In the context of Ethics by Design all control options would enable meaningful consent.

Control Options

Control options are the tools and features that allow users to interact with software and hardware systems and control their behavior. The design of control options has an impact on the behavior of users, and it is important for designers to consider the ethical implications of their design choices. To learn more about this topic, please see our worksheet on Presenting information for consent and control (PDF-file).


Design can be defined as the process of creating the description of a new facility. It involves considering the form, function and aesthetics of the planned product. In the context of software development, design includes defining the software’s architecture, user interface, data structures, algorithms, and other components like control options. In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on incorporating ethical considerations into software design from the very beginning of the development process (see: Ethics by Design). Ethical design practices include considering the intersecting issues of accessibility and privacy.

Digital Sovereignty

Being sovereign as a person refers to the freedom from external control, the autonomy to make your own decisions and the ability of taking actions. In the context of software development, the design of user interfaces like control options, previous knowledge and experience of users will influence their possibilities of action. Conceived as a collective concern, digital sovereignty should thus take into account that, in the age of predictive analytics, an individual or a group can be treated unequally on the basis of anonymous data that others disclose about themselves, possibly in best faith (see: predictive privacy).


Empowerment can be defined as a process through which individuals, as well as local groups and communities, identify and shape their lives and the kind of society in which they live. Empowerment through design means that users learn about possibilities and consequences while using products, in a way that is giving them more control options that make able to decide instead of creating resignation.

Ethics by Design

Ethics by Design refers to the process of integrating ethical considerations into the design and development of technology products and services from the very beginning, rather than addressing ethical issues as an afterthought. Ethics by Design is often understood in terms of Privacy by Design, where software developers typically use programming guidelines to systematically implement privacy principles like considering privacy enhancing options as default. In a broader understanding of Ethics by Design as Responsible Innovation, however, it crucially hangs on interdisciplinary reflecting, anticipating and responding to the ethical and social questions that arise at the interface of innovation and society (see also: Social Nature of Technology).


Identification is the process of authenticating a person for a specified process or the recognition of person through data. In this process there can be used different points of information. Location data can be used to infere information like a home address or work location. Authenticating a person’s identity based on a unique physical attribute is referred to as biometrics.


Inference is the process of drawing conclusions or making predictions based on available information or evidence. In the context of software development, inference often refers to the use of machine learning models to make predictions or classify new data based on statistical patterns or relationships in existing data. This process is visualised in our learning app (link to GitHub), with inference models data analysts can calculate routines, health data and personal information from location data.


Intuition can be defined as the ability to understand or perceive something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning or evidence. It is often described as a ‘gut feeling’ or an ‘inner sense’ that guides decision-making and problem-solving. Psychological intuition is possible with little prior knowledge – which is the basis for the human faculty to decide with very little information but also the source of bias. For experts, intuition can also be the faculty to access extensive knowledge without having to spend time on a careful deliberation process. In the context of software development, intuition refers to the ability of users to understand and use a user interface like control options without the need for extensive instructions or training. Here, intuitive is often used as if it were some kind of universal approach where one best ‘intuitive’ design is presumed. However, what is intuitive for one user may not be intuitive for another, due to differences in cognitive abilities, cultural background or prior experience.

Location Based Services

Location-based services integrate location data from various resources, including Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, cellular tower pings and short-range positioning beacons, to provide services based on the user’s geographical location. Typical services include navigation, receiving offers for nearby shops or sharing your location with friends, family or publicly.

Location Data

Location data refers to any information that identifies the geographic location of a device, object, or person. This can include data such as GPS coordinates, Wi-Fi access points, cell tower signals, or IP addresses. In computer science, location data is widely used in a variety of applications, such as navigation or location-based services. Location data is also needed for smart city initiatives, where it enables tracking and planning with inferences.

Location Privacy

If location data is collected from a person it contains very personal information. Spatial privacy is the protection of a location against unwanted entry. Unless people are physically secure, have personal space protected, and are able to maintain control over their information, genuine liberty of choice will not be possible.

Predictive Privacy

The concept of predictive privacy highlights the collective character of privacy protection in the context of machine learning and big data. It stresses the severe ethical and data protection implications of predictive analytics when sensitive information about individuals or groups is predicted against their will or without their knowledge on the basis of data like location data that many others disclose about themselves. As an ethical principle, predictive privacy thus emphasizes the need to protect individuals and groups against differential treatment based on predictive analytics.

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Privacy can be defined as the right to control access to one’s personal information and activities, including how that information is collected, used, and shared. In times of big data and machine learning, it is increasingly important to consider privacy from a broader perspective beyond just the individual, as the collection and use of personal data can have significant impacts on society as a whole (see: predictive privacy).


A product typically serves a specific purpose or meets a particular need, and it is designed by a company to be sold to a customer. In the context of software development, a product refers to a digital application, program, or system that is made available for use by customers. As software products like location based services increasingly collect and process sensitive user data, it is important to prioritize the protection of this information (see: predictive privacy).

Responsible Innovation

Responsible innovation is an approach to research and development that emphasises the importance to reflect, anticipate and respond to the complex questions that arise at the interface of innovation and society. Given the Social Nature of Technology, the aim of responsible innovation is to bring social and ethical considerations to bear on research and development decisions. One main way to achieve this is through close collaboration between experts from the social sciences and humanities and their technical counterparts throughout the development process.

Social Nature of Technology

The social nature of technology refers to the ways in which technology is shaped by and shapes social interactions, relationships, and structures. Digital technologies, in particular, on the one hand transform the ways in which we communicate, work, learn, and socialize, and as such shape the way we live our lives. On the other hand, these technologies are developed and used in social contexts, and as such their development and deployment is shaped by social, economic, political and cultural factors. In the context of Responsible Innovation, understanding the social nature of digital technology is crucial for ensuring that new technologies are developed and deployed in a way that is socially and ethically responsible.


Technology refers to the application of scientific knowledge, tools, and techniques to create products, solve problems, or make tasks more efficient and effective. It often includes the use of machines, devices, software, and other tools to perform various tasks and activities. Technology is not a neutral tool or an autonomous force that operates independently from human actors and society, but rather a complex and dynamic social process that involves various actors, institutions, and power relations (see: Social Nature of Technology). In the view of Responsible Innovation, technology is not just about creating products, but about how technical artefacts are produced, used, and contested in their social, political and economic contexts.