1st Munich Conference Series on Ethics in Innovation

by | Apr 14, 2017 | Innovation | 0 comments

After a long break, I am excited to inform you that the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition and the World Forum for Ethics in Business, in partnership with the German Patent & Trade Mark Office, the Peter Löscher Chair of Business Ethics at the Technical University of Munich, and the European Patent Office, are organizing a series of conferences titled the ‘Munich Conference Series on Ethics in Innovation.’ The 1st Conference Series on Ethics in Innovation comprises two segments: 

1. The World Youth Forum for Ethics in Innovation (WYF 2017) from 23-25 June 2017 (hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition, Munich); and
2. The multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder conference on Ethics in Innovation (EII Conference) from 26-27 June 2017 (hosted by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, Munich)

We invite the readers of Spicy IP, including students and young IP professionals from around the globe to apply for and participate in either or both of these events. An overview of the conference concept and all relevant links are provided below. 

Introduction & Concept

What is considered ‘ethical’ and ‘innovative’ varies from person to person, culture to culture, and even from industry to industry. This difference in perception may, at first glance, seem to be of interest only from a purely academic perspective. In reality, however, it plays a crucial and practical role in ensuring a healthy and balanced public debate, which, in the end, can influence all segments of human life, including the approach to education, the focus of scientific research efforts, the framework of laws and policies, and even the flow of capital at the level of societies, communities, countries and regions. 

It is perhaps no wonder, therefore, that despite widespread globalization, even in the 21st century, it is not corporate profits alone that drive the direction and success of an innovation. Diverse ethical views, including socio-cultural norms, social or individual history and the historical evolution of world views predominant in various regions of the world, all play a significant role in determining the direction and goals of innovation in various societies or communities on the one hand, and the manner in which these innovations are viewed, disseminated and used around the globe, on the other. 

Ethical issues and dominant world views emerging therefrom, broadly speaking, may often also guide the adoption of laws and regulations associated, inter alia, with testing, adopting, disseminating, using and even patenting of certain types of innovations, to the exclusion of others. Yet, in the 21st century global village, with the confluence of diverse cultures through immigration, job hunts and growing frequency of inter-cultural marriages, it is necessary to re-think the fundamental understanding that we as a human society have of the terms ‘innovation’ and ‘ethics’ as such, and of their relationship with one another in narratives employed at national and international debates linked with innovation. 

Structure & Topics

The first Munich Conference on Ethics in Innovation therefore asks several fundamental questions that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries and calls for an open, multi-disciplinary, and multi-stakeholder discussion of these fundamental questions. Day 1 of the conference outlines the most fundamental questions of ethics and innovation from the perspective of disciplines and discourses that affects all segments of human life. The questions considered on Day 1 of the conference include, but are not limited to, the following: ‘Is there a ‘common minimum’ ethical value system that binds us as a human society? What are the socio-cultural and economic consequences, if any, of labelling certain material and immaterial creations as ‘innovations’ and not others? What role do ethical concerns play in the life and work of those engaged in some of the most groundbreaking innovations? What approaches to education can help nurture both ethical and innovative outlooks in individuals from diverse cultures? In what circumstances can people of one culture accept and embrace innovations from other cultures? Can such acceptance lead to greater communal harmony and secular yet economically prosperous living? Can innovations in the digital age serve to bring diverse cultures closer together in a democratic and secular framework? Is there a need to regulate innovations that might have an opposite effect?

Day 2 focuses on issues of ethics and innovation in a specific field, namely, information and communication technologies, including means of promoting equitable and inclusive innovations in the ICT sector globally. The discussions will look into diverse issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective and consider how ethics in innovation can be promoted by, inter alia, providing equitable access to venture and seed capital funding, promoting innovations in the digital field that are supportive of larger societal goals (such as democracy, peace, sustainability and inter-cultural harmony), determining the means/need of regulating content in online media, discussing issues of ethics linked to the cutting edge innovations in the field of artificial intelligence and the internet of thigs, and re-assessing means inclusive and exclusive of traditional intellectual property protection regimes to promote, recognize and disseminate innovations emerging from diverse socio-cultural and economic contexts. 

To ensure a rich multi-cultural and multi-stakeholder discussion of these issues, engaging experts as well as students and young professionals from diverse disciplinary fields from across the globe, the first Munich Conference Series on Ethics in Innovation is split into two segments: 
• The World Youth Forum for Ethics in Innovation (WYF 2017) from 23-25 June 2017, at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition, Munich. For more information on the concept and program of WYF 2017, please visit www.wfeb.org. 
• The multi-stakeholder conference on Ethics in Innovation (EII Conference) from 26-27 June 2017, at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, Munich. 

The deadline to apply for the World Youth Forum for Ethics in Innovation is 10th May 2017. The top 5 applicants will receive a scholarship from the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition, covering flight and accommodation expenses for the duration of the forum and conference. 

For more information, email Camille Abgrall at WYF2017_Munich@wfeb.org 

For more information on the Ethics in Innovation Conference Series and its research goals, contact Dr. Mrinalini Kochupillai: Mrinalini.kochupillai@ip.mpg.de