Bring­ing ethics into the code

iRights.Lab publishes practical guide to algorithm design

The Algo.Rules were developed in a large participation process with over 400 participants*: nine principles for the ethical design of algorithmic systems. With the practical guide, there is now a manual that operationalises the Algo.Rules and offers concrete support for developers and their managers.

Algo­rith­mic sys­tems sup­port numer­ous deci­sions in every­day life, pre­pare them or carry them out com­plete­ly. More and more they are also used in areas with a direct influ­ence on people’s lives. There­fore it is even more impor­tant that these sys­tems are designed eth­i­cal­ly and con­tribute to the well-being of soci­ety. Many devel­op­ers* and their man­agers are con­vinced that the tech­nolo­gies have a pos­i­tive cre­ative power. How­ev­er, they lack the prac­ti­cal help they need to imple­ment the rel­e­vant guide­lines in order to unleash this power.

This is why we now present the prac­ti­cal guide for devel­op­ers* and man­agers, which helps to inte­grate the Algo.rules into their work practice.

The con­crete appli­ca­tion depends on the indi­vid­ual case, i.e. on ques­tions like: Who builds which sys­tem with which goal and with which resources for which use? The guide there­fore does not pro­vide the one cor­rect imple­men­ta­tion path, but rather puts togeth­er a num­ber of impor­tant prac­ti­cal aids.

The first step is to deter­mine whether the Algo.rules are rel­e­vant for a sys­tem. The stronger the pos­si­ble influ­ence of an algo­rith­mic sys­tem on people’s lives or soci­ety, the more thor­ough­ly the imple­men­ta­tion of the Algo.rules must be examined.

For each rule, the guide­line offers not only a con­cretiza­tion for a bet­ter under­stand­ing and suc­cess fac­tors for the imple­men­ta­tion, but also check­lists with ori­en­ta­tion ques­tions for mea­sures in IT and soft­ware companies.

You can down­load the prac­ti­cal guide here (Ger­man).

More infor­ma­tion about the Algo.rules can be found here or at

The Ber­tels­mann Stiftung is imple­ment­ing the Algo.Rules project in coop­er­a­tion with the iRights.Lab.

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