Value Pluralism in the AI Ethics Debate – Different Actors, Different Priorities


  • Catharina Rudschies Universität Hamburg
  • Prof. Dr. Ingrid Schneider Universität Hamburg
  • Prof. Dr. Judith Simon Universität Hamburg



Artificial Intelligence, Deliberation, Ethics, Value Pluralism


In the current debate on the ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) much attention has been paid to find some “common ground” in the numerous AI ethics guidelines. The divergences, however, are equally important as they shed light on the conflicts and controversies that require further debate. This paper analyses the AI ethics landscape with a focus on divergences across actor types (public, expert, and private actors). It finds that the differences in actors’ priorities for ethical principles influence the overall outcome of the debate. It shows that determining “minimum requirements” or “primary principles” on the basis of frequency excludes many principles that are subject to controversy, but might still be ethically relevant. The results are discussed in the light of value pluralism, suggesting that the plurality of sets of principles must be acknowledged and can be used to further the debate.


Access Now. Human rights in the age of artificial intelligence, 2018, *

Amnesty International & Access Now. The Toronto Declaration: Protecting the right to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning systems, 2018,

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Statement on Algorithmic Transparency and Accountability. Washington: Association for Computing Machinery US Public Policy Council, 2017,

Austrian Council on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Shaping the Future of Austria with Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, 2018,

CNIL - The French Data Protection Authority. How can humans keep the upper hand? The ethical matters raised by algorithms and artificial intelligence, Paris: Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, 2017,

Council of Europe, Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence, 12 November 2018, Draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on human rights impacts of algorithmic systems. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2018. MSI-AUT(2018)06.

Crowder, George. Value pluralism and communitarianism. Contemporary Political Theory 5.4 (2006): 405-427.

Data Ethics Commission of the Federal Government of Germany (DEK), Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. Opinion of the Data Ethics Commission, Berlin: DEK, 2019.

Dawson, D. & Schleiger, E., Horton, J., McLaughlin, J., Robinson, C., Quezada, G., Scowcroft, J., and Hajkowicz, S. Artificial Intelligence: Australia’s Ethics Framework. Data61 CSIRO, Australia, 2019,

Deutsche Telekom. AI Guidelines, 2018.

Eubanks, Virginia. Automating inequality: How high-tech tools profile, police, and punish the poor. St. Martin's Press, 2018.

European Commission, High-Level Expert Group on AI. Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. Brussels: European Commission, 2019,

European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies. Statement on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and ‘Autonomous’ Systems. Brussels: European Commission, 2018,

European Commission. White Paper on Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust. Brussels, European Commission, 2020,

FRA – European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. AI policy initiatives (2016-2020), 2020,

Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning (FAT ML). Principles for Accountable Algorithms and a Social Impact Statement for Algorithms, 2018,

Fjeld, Jessica, et al. "Principled artificial intelligence: Mapping consensus in ethical and rights-based approaches to principles for AI." Berkman Klein Center Research Publication 2020-1 (2020).

Floridi, Luciano, et al. "AI4People—an ethical framework for a good AI society: opportunities, risks, principles, and recommendations." Minds and Machines 28.4 (2018): 689-707.

Future of Life Institute. Asilomar AI Principles, 2017,

Government of Japan, The Conference toward AI Network Society. Draft AI R&D GUIDELINES for International Discussions, 2017,

Hagendorff, Thilo. “The ethics of AI ethics - an evaluation of guidelines.” (2019), arXiv preprint arXiv:1903.03425.

Henman, Paul. "Improving public services using artificial intelligence: possibilities, pitfalls, governance." Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration 42.4 (2020): 209-221.

House of Lords, Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? Report of Session 2017-19, London: House of Lords, 2018,

IBM. Everyday Ethics for Artificial Intelligence, 2019,

Intel. Artificial Intelligence - The Public Policy Opportunity, 2017,

International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC). Declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence, 40th International Conference, Brussels, 2018,

International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (IWGDPT), 64th Meeting, 29-30 November 2018, Queenstown (New Zealand). Working Paper on Privacy and Artificial Intelligence, 2018,

Jobin, Anna, Marcello Ienca, and Effy Vayena. "The global landscape of AI ethics guidelines." Nature Machine Intelligence 1.9 (2019): 389-399.

Korea Artificial Intelligence Ethics Association (kaiea). The AI Ethics Charter. Seoul: keiea, 2019,

Malta.AI, Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, Office of the Prime Minister. Malta. Towards Trustworthy AI – Malta Ethical AI Framework for Public Consultation. Valletta: Malta.AI, 2019,

Microsoft. Microsoft AI principles, 2018,

National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta). AI Governance Database, n.d.,

OECD, Recommendation of the Council on Artificial Intelligence, OECD/LEGAL/0449.

O'Neil, Cathy. Weapons of math destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. Crown, 2016.

OP Financial Group. OP Financial Group’s ethical guidelines for artificial intelligence, 2018,

Partnership on AI. Tenets, 2016,

Pichai, Sundar. AI at Google: Our Principles, 2018.

Rotenberg, Marc. The AI Policy Sourcebook 2019. Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington DC, ed. 2019.

Rudschies, Catharina, Schneider, Ingrid & Simon, Judith. The Heterogeneity of AI Ethics Guidelines Examined: Varying Natures, Actors, and Perceptions. Forthcoming.

Sage. The Ethics of Code: Developing AI for Business with Five Core Principles, 2017,

SAP. SAP's Guiding Principles for Artificial Intelligence, 2018,

Smart Dubai. AI Ethics Principles & Guidelines, 2018,

Sony. AI Engagement within Sony Group, 2018,

Task Force on Artificial Intelligence of the Agency for Digital Italy Artificial Intelligence at the service of citizens. The Agency for Digital Italy (AGID), 2018,

Telefónica. AI Principles of Telefónica, 2018,

Telia. Guiding Principles on Trusted AI Ethics, 2019,

The Danish Government, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs. National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. Copenhagen: The Danish Government, 2019,

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Ethically Aligned Design - A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, First Edition, 2019,

The Public Voice. Universal Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence, Explanatory Memorandum and References, 2018,

UNI Global Union. Top 10 principles for ethical artificial intelligence. Switzerland, UNI Global Union, 2016,

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Preliminary study on the technical and legal aspects relating to the desirability of a standard-setting instrument on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Paris: UNESCO, 2019,

Unity Technologies. Introducing Unity’s Guiding Principles for Ethical AI, 2018,

University of Montréal. Montréal Declaration for a responsible development of artificial intelligence, 2018,

Wendel, W. Bradley. "Value pluralism in legal ethics." Wash. ULQ 78 (2000): 113.




How to Cite

Rudschies, Catharina, Ingrid Schneider, and Judith Simon. 2021. “Value Pluralism in the AI Ethics Debate – Different Actors, Different Priorities”. The International Review of Information Ethics 29 (March). Edmonton, Canada.