Applying Ethics in the Handling of Dual Use Research: The Case of Germany

Cover of the journal Research Ethics
Article by Una Jakob, Felicitas Kraemer, Florian Kraus and Thomas Lengauer

With regard to the handling of dual use research, the dominant approach in Germany aimed at mitigating dual use risks emphasizes the freedom of research and the strengthening of academic self-regulation. This article presents this approach as one example for a framework for handling security-relevant research, underlines the need for awareness-raising about risks of security-relevant research, and, more generally, highlights some of the dilemmas researchers and legislators face when dealing with security-relevant research. The article furthermore presents the key questions developed by the German Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research to provide guidance for researchers and institutions when they address possible research of concern. It applies these key questions in a case study of a well-publicized experiment in which artificial intelligence and drug discovery technologies were used to determine their dual use potential in identifying highly toxic chemical substances. Moreover, it discusses the utility of the framework applied in Germany and concludes that this approach is practicable. Given the strong emphasis on the researchers’ own responsibility, however, awareness of dual use risks and risk mitigation strategies should be further enhanced and an academic culture of responsible handling of security-relevant research should be promoted.

Bibliographic record

Jakob, Una; Kraemer, Felicitas; Kraus, Florian; Lengauer, Thomas. “Applying Ethics in the Handling of Dual Use Research: The Case of Germany” In Research Ethics. 21.06.2024. DOI: 10.1177/17470161241261044

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