SIENNA - Stakeholder-informed ethics for new technologies with high socio-economic and human rights impact

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 11 October 2017


From 01/10/2017 to 31/03/2021

The SIENNA project (2017-2021) addresses ethical issues in human genomics, human enhancement and AI and robotics. SIENNA focusses on ethical and human rights challenges. While these technologies offer significant benefits to individuals and society, they also present major ethical challenges, e.g., in relation to human autonomy, equality, personal liberty, privacy, and accountability.

In collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, SIENNA has identified and assessed ethical and socio-economic issues, public opinions, legal regulation and human rights implications of each technology. It has developed ethical frameworks based on social, ethical and legal analyses that address major present and future ethical issues in

  1. human genomics, 
  2. human enhancement and 
  3. AI & robotics.

SIENNA is developing

  • an International Code of Conduct for Data Sharing in Genomics
  • Ethics guidelines for human enhancement technologies
  • a Multi-Stakeholder Strategy and practical tools for ethical AI and Robotics.

Based on the lessons learned in the project, SIENNA will also develop generalised methods to conduct ethical and legal analyses of new and emerging technologies and to develop guidance and tools to promote ethics for the development, deployment and use of these technologies. 

To learn more about the project - see these videos 

  • Genetics and genomics - 'Genome' is a word for all our DNA. DNA information can tell us about our health. It can help us diagnose a disease, help prevent future ones, and tell us about the health of our relatives. Scientists study our DNA, and have tools that can modify it. Who should take a DNA test? When should they have it? Should scientists share information about your DNA? Or be allowed to modify the genes of adults or embryos? SIENNA tries to answer these questions and many more. Our answers could help develop policies, to ensure we benefit from new technologies, and minimise harms. We work together with experts and stakeholders. Because people's ethical, legal & social concerns should be addressed by sound research. 
  • Human Enhancement - We can use technology to enhance different abilities: physical, emotional, cognitive, and moral. This challenges boundaries between treatment and enhancement, health and illness. Does this question human nature? Should some things remain unchanged? Or is it human to enhance? The SIENNA project will help explore and understand the ethical, legal & human rights issues related to human enhancement and discuss how to handle them
  • AI & Robotics - We interact with machines, robots, smart devices, intelligent software, prosthetics & implants. Robots can perform human tasks on their own, and smart devices can operate autonomously. Or connect & work together. Intelligent software agents such as Siri or Alexa, sense & respond to their environment. We share our roads with autonomous cars, and use intelligent prosthetics and implants that restore & enhance the human body. AI & Robotics offer great potential benefits. At the same time, these technologies challenge our ethical notions: Who protects our data? Who is accountable? How is human identity changing? AI & Robotics developers ask for ethical guidelines & regulation. SIENNA will contribute to professional ethics, assess laws and human rights implications and & recommend how to enhance international legal frameworks for industry, software developers and research

SIENNA methodology

State-of-the-art Reviews

Legal analysis

Surveys of research ethics committee approaches and codes

Ethical analysis

Public opinion surveys

Citizen panels

Enhancing legal frameworks

Ethical frameworks

  • Michael Kühler, Nils-Frederic Wagner, Philip Brey, Sean R Jensen, Saskia Nagel, & Anna-Carolina Zuiderduin, SIENNA D3.7 Proposal for an ethical framework for human enhancement ((Version V10) Submitted public deliverable from the SIENNA project, awaiting approval from the European Commission.


  • University of Twente (Netherlands) - co-ordinator 
  • Trilateral Research (United Kingdom) - deputy co-ordinator
  • Uppsala University (Sweden) 
  • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
  • European Network of Research Ethics Committees (Germany)
  • University of Granada (Spain)
  • Ionian University (Greece)
  • Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • Dalian University of Technology (China)
  • French National Centre for Scientific Research (Sciences Po) (France)
  • University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Associate partners:

  • Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (US) 
  • Chuo University (Japan).
Total cost: EUR 3 996 787,50
EU contribution: EUR 3 996 787,50

The SIENNA project - Stakeholder-informed ethics for new technologies with high socio-economic and human rights impact - has received funding under the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 741716.


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